Saturday, November 21, 2009

Canadians See Ourselves As "Laggards"

An interesting study on Canada's climate change policy, that passes the sniff test:
On the eve of major UN climate change talks next month in Copenhagen, a major survey of Canadians has found that more than three quarters of the public feel embarrassed that the country hasn't been taking a leadership role on reducing greenhouse-gas emissions.

The finding that most Canadians are dismayed over the country's record on climate change is a message to federal Environment Minister Jim Prentice and the Conservative government, says Jim Hoggan, president of Hoggan & Associates.

Even in Alberta, 65 per cent of respondents agreed with a statement that “it's embarrassing that we are not doing more to curb emissions.” Support for the view favouring more action was highest in Quebec, at 86 per cent.

The Prentice view, that Canada just wait on the sidelines until others step forward, isn't supported by Canadians. That copout approach, wherein they continually delay regulation, doesn't seem to hold water with Canadians.

This study was supported by various groups, and Conservative apologists will seize on the David Suzuki connection, as evidence of "flowered" numbers. That criticism doesn't hold water, when you look at some of the other numbers. For instance, the "denier" camp is clearly represented, maybe even over-stated:
The polling also found an overwhelming majority of the public shares the assessment of the scientific community that global warming is a major threat to the planet. A total of 72 per cent thought the impacts of climate change “are going to be very serious,” compared to 28 per cent who agreed with the statement that such concerns “are exaggerated.”

There was also strong support for the view that “most scientists agree that human activity is the primary cause of climate change,” a position held by 62 per cent of the public, compared to the 38 per cent who felt there was “still much debate” among researchers.

The above is a testament to a fair study, the last thing a pro-environment piece would put forth is clear evidence that not everyone is buying into the climate change message.

The study also confirms the normal dynamic in 2009. While the environment is a priority, it lags far behind the economy and health care. However, these findings show that Canadians can walk and chew gum at the same time, concern for certain issues, doesn't equate to indifference on others.

This issue is still a clear achilles heel for the Conservatives. With the looming embarrassment in Copenhagen on the horizon, that may well CEMENT our status as a laggard, the opposition would do well to really focus on our reckless approach. Baird had promised to deliver a regulation regiment in the summer of 2008, after many previous delays. The Conservatives then announced another delay when the election was called. All this prior to the new nonsense of waiting for Obama, and we are still waiting for those regulations, now told it may be years. If one were to document the chronology on this file, I suspect Canadians "embarrassment" would only be confirmed.


RuralSandi said...

Really - then why is Harper doing okay in the polls?

Steve V said...

People don't support or support, based on one issue, do they? This issue still remains a liability for the government.

Omar said...

Oh yeah, Canadians are all about being embarrassed about not doing more to curb emissions until the Harper-Conservative propaganda machine comes along and scares the bejesus out of everyone by telling them their taxes will rise if we do do more to curb emissions. Then we are more than happy to maintain the status quo.

I'm actually beginning to think we are the absolute biggest morons on the planet. A citizenry of the dumb and even dumber.

(word verification -- 'counks' -- this will be my new label for stupid Canadians)

Lizt. said...

Why do people still support Harper..because he uses the same thing in other countries to turn off the environment, I do not know what it is , but it is evil, and gets to a great many fools.

The Mound of Sound said...

These pricks know the opposite dynamic is underway in the US with belief in AGW plummeting. They also know they can count on the bought and paid for Congress to run interference for them so long as they hitch Canada's response to Americas.

Overlooked is that the Tories' position is focused entirely on just one facet - carbon emissions reductions. They completely avoid any discussion of the climate change that's already coming down the pike from existing atmospheric GHG, the consequences we'll have to deal with even if we were able to decarbonize our economy and our society tomorrow.

The Brits and the Euros are taking adaptation very seriously. They're already well underway with the information stage that will lead to the planning stage and then implementation. They know this is a multi-generational challenge and that the consequences of putting it off could be disastrous.

The Brits, for example, are particularly concerned about sea level rise. London, of course, sits well below sea level. They're working on new, more robust tide surge gates for the Thames. They're also identifying coastal areas that will likely experience inundation and mapping them out so that local authorities can amend their zoning accordingly. Little things like these that can pay big dividends later. Relatively minor adaptation measures that require a lot of time to evaluate, plan and implement.

Canada boasts the longest coastline of any nation. You would think that alone would make us keep an eye on adaptation measures for sea level rise. Yet that's not even on the Tories' radar.

They won't speak of it because they know that disseminating information would put a complete end to their climate change rearguard action. Once the good Burghers of West Point Grey get the notion of their oceanside vistas over English Bay being utterly submerged, they're bound to be pissed off.

Jerry Prager said...

It's not so much that the poll is nonsense, it's that Canadians are not prepared to do anything about climate change, period. It just appeals to our vanity to think of ourselves as a progressive nation. We're not: we're becoming increasingly reactionary. There will be no just society here, no global leadership, and when the leaders of the new green economy emerge and it ain't us, we'll whine about it, but just go back to our tv's and electronic gadgets.
We want to believe Harper. We want to do nothing. We just don't want anyone to think we're doing nothing.

Steve V said...

"It's not so much that the poll is nonsense, it's that Canadians are not prepared to do anything about climate change, period."

I'm afraid you might be right. As soon as you attach any cost, suddenly the numbers fade away.

Anonymous said...

If there were some honest discussion from our leaders about the economic costs of "doing nothing", perhaps the numbers would hold. The Pembina report mentions that uncontrolled climate change is expected to result in a 5% - 20% decrease in global GDP. Although Canada is a cold country, we will experience more severe weather, changes in agricultural productivity, loss of boreal forest and who knows what else. We will pay an economic price along with the rest of the world.

The Mound of Sound said...

More accurately I think it's that Canadians are not prepared YET to do anything about climate change. Once they come to accept the problem as no longer a matter of choice they'll be prepared to do plenty and there are already companies such as Vivendi and Suez raking in vast somes from those countries first hit. It all squares neatly with Naomi Klein's theory of Disaster Capitalism.

Frankly Canadian said...

I'm not sure I understand? How do you get all that oil out of the high artic with all that ice up there? Surely the cheapest way for Harpers sugar daddies, (sorry, constituents) would be to melt the ice before you start drilling. I thought that is what Harper meant by "you won't recognize Canada when he's finished with it", the artic will be replaced by a new tar sands and a whole lot more Fort McMurrays.