Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Canadians: Massive Support for Kyoto

New poll released that shows Canadians overwhelming support Kyoto's objectives:
Prime Minister Stephen Harper has rejected the Kyoto Protocol, an international pact to cut greenhouse emissions that cause global warming, and federal officials suggest their top priority is air and water quality, not climate.

McAllister's poll suggests that the great majority of Canadians don't agree with that stance. It found that 77 per cent believe Canada should meet or exceed its Kyoto targets for cutting emissions.

More than 90 per cent of Canadians said climate change will be a serious problem if not addressed, and 75 per cent believe that a "good amount" or a "great deal" can be done to fight the problem.

Global warming has become a key issue:
In the poll, the most frequently named environmental issues were air quality (35 per cent), global warming (20 per cent), water quality (12 per cent) and nature conservation (six per cent).

In July 2005, only seven per cent of those interviewed named global warming as the top environmental issue, putting it in fourth place after air quality (35 per cent), water quality (17 per cent) and nature conservation (13 per cent).

Given the natural link with air quality, and you have a sobering realization that we need immediate action. This poll shows an appetite for "radical" measures to tackle emissions, because afterall acceptance is half the battle. The "ambitious" proposals from the NDP, Green Party and various Liberal candidates find a receptive audience and makes the Conservatives stance the real fringe. Whatever Ambrose concocts, we all know it will lack real targets on emissions, ala Kyoto, which makes this issue the achilles heel of the government.

No longer an afterthought in the minds of Canadians:
He said environment is now at the top of the list in Quebec while in the rest of Canada it is third place after health and governance, but rapidly moving into second place.

Let's hope the momentum is real and this becomes the cornerstone issue next election. The politicians are moving in step with average Canadians, which makes for a positive landscape to actually do something effective. All we need to do is send the dinosaurs back to Alberta.


Olaf said...

C'mon though, are you serious?

Ofcourse Canadians support Kyoto, when you don't propose what tradeoffs exist. No one is "anti-environment". I'd be interested in how many people, not in polls, but in an actual election, would vote for a candidate who clearly and honestly suggested that we can meet our Kyoto targets, but people in oil and gas and manufacturing will loose jobs, natural gas and petroleum products will cost them more, their social security, or health care, or whatever, benefits will have to be cut back to allow for investment in environmental programs, etc. If people were so gung-ho for the environment (77%, wow), why does the Green party not have a seat in parliament?

I bet most Canadians support ending world hunger too, but not if it means that they can't eat whatever they want.

I'm not saying Kyoto is a bad idea, or that environmentalism has no hope. Far from it, this will become more and more important until drastic measures are necessary. But I don't think we've reached that point yet, no matter how much Canadians say they support Kyoto, which, I have a feeling, most have no idea about. They just know they like the environment.

Steve V said...


I don't see how anyone can deny the fact that environmental issues are becoming more of a concern with the population. I honestly think people are ready to make sacrifices, with some careful nudging from the government.

piperslagoon said...

Anyone who was around back in the late 1980s, knows what happens when the public gets pissed. A lot happened between 1988 and 1992 - Green Plan, Rio Summit, green products. Ok, a lot of talk happened. But still, when the public gets pissed, I'd say, watch out. If there is one issue that Canadians want to feel good about, it is environment.

Erik Abbink said...

It's unbelievable that there are still people out there defending NOT to support the Kyoto protocol. What's wrong with you?

We need clean air, clean water, a clean environment. Yes, it will come at a cost, but so what?

Most Canadians support the protocol and so do some major businesses

It's time to move foreward before it is to late.

Olaf said...


As I said, I don't deny that the environment is considered an important issue by Canadians (and will be increasingly important as the effects of global warming become more material), but when a poll asks, "Do you support the Kyoto protocal", most Canadians will say yes. Ofcourse they do, especially when the poll doesn't suggest the material tradeoffs inherent in a sound environmental policy, which ofcourse you can see.

Erik: You're missing the point... the point is that, whether the Conservatives or the Green party forms the government, between then and the next election, Canadians will not notice a difference in their air or water or in global warming, but they will in their pocket books. Environmentalism produces benefits, unfortunately, that are more long term and for the foreseeable future invisible, and thus less likely to attract voters than taxes or social policy, which are visible and immediate.

What I am saying is this: If you ask the question "do you support the Kyoto protocal", the majority of Candians, who are unaware what meeting the targets will mean for them personally and financially, will ofcourse agree that they want us to limit greenhouse gases. But if you were to make clear the short term material losses they may face in limiting greenhouse gases, to create invisible (but not, by any means, unimportant) long term benefits, few would be so supportive.

Maybe I'm just a cynic. But I've been proven right in the past, and will be in the future. Immediate, material and visible benefits almost always beat out long term, invisible, global benefits.

Steve V said...

"Immediate, material and visible benefits almost always beat out long term, invisible, global benefits."

True, which is why the government needs to offer attractive incentives to lessen the personal cost.

Olaf said...

I suppose, and assumedly, those attractive benefits will have to be paid by someone. I guess the question's "who". Anyways, enjoyable post and comments.