B.C. residents increasingly worried about climate change: poll
With polls suggesting voters are tuned in to the problem of climate change as the federal election approaches, party leaders have clambered to position their parties as being best suited to deal with problem.
Three of the country’s four major party leaders have thrown their weight behind rallies, marches and conferences on climate change, as the New Democratic Party’s Jagmeet Singh did Tuesday during a climate caucus at Vancouver City Hall. Most major parties have also unveiled their climate change platforms.
But some argue the plans and the talk does not go far enough, and recent polling in B.C. suggests voters may be ahead of the politicians when it comes to climate action.
Seth Klein, an adjunct professor at Simon Fraser University, is a former head of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives which commissioned a recent poll that found 77 per cent of B.C. residents were “really anxious” or “increasingly worried” about climate change.
About 84 per cent of B.C. respondents said climate change represented a major threat to the future of their children and grandchildren, and 57 per cent said the government was doing too little to combat it.
Residents in B.C. were among Canada’s most supportive of federal actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, according to the findings of the Policy Alternatives poll, which was done by Abacus. That included measures like ending the use of coal to generate electricity, phasing out fossil fuels, and requiring energy-efficient buildings.
Klein commissioned the survey for a book he is writing, but he said he decided to release the findings now, ahead of an election in which he believes climate change policy will play a central role.
“I wanted to release it now because I think what it says to political parties is up your game. Don’t be afraid to be bold because the public is saying they’re looking for that kind of leadership,” Klein said.
The NDP’s plan is largely focused on support for clean energy practices and jobs, while the Greens propose to nearly eliminate fossil fuel use in Canada by mid-century, among other things.
Klein said he liked the NDP plan for the connections it makes to inequality and Indigenous rights as well as its emphasis on a transition for fossil fuel workers. He liked the Greens plan for its firm climate target dates and rejection of new fossil fuel infrastructure, he said.
Asked what he thought of the Conservative Party’s climate plan, Klein said he believed they had “put themselves out of the game on this file.”
The Conservative Party’s plan puts a focus on green technology and a cleaner environment, but would not include a carbon tax.
As of Tuesday, the Liberals were the only major party not to have released its election platform, including a climate plan, “but their record is what it is,” Klein said.
“I don’t think they are practicing a politics yet that is aligned with the science. We’ll see what more is there in the platform,” he said.
OPTIONAL TRIM, RUN ONLINE The leaders for the Liberal, NDP and Green parties have all attended climate change events to show their support for taking action on the problem. When asked whether Conservative Party leader Andrew Scheer had attended or spoken at any climate change rallies, marches or conferences this year, his press secretary said he had delivered speeches across the country on his plan.
Previous polling from Research Co. has suggested B.C. voters see the environment as a major issue, but that they don’t necessarily put it as one of their top three vote defining issues.
The Abacus survey was conducted online with 2,000 Canadians from July 16 to 19. The margin of error is plus or minus 2.19%.