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.