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April 24, 2008
By Dr. Loleen Berdahl
Director of Research
Canada West Foundation
CALGARY, Apr. 24, 2008/ Troy Media/ — Protecting the environment is a growing concern in the West, with large numbers of Western Canadians also identifying climate change as a problem for Canada, according to a new Canada West Foundation report.
Loleen Berdahl, report author and senior researcher with the foundation, reports that almost 80 per cent of Western Canadians believe that climate change is a serious problem for Canada and about 75 per cent rate environmental protection as a high or very high priority in 2008.
The number of Western Canadians rating environmental protection as a high or very high priority has risen by over 10 per centage points since 2003.
Robert Roach, director of strategic policy and research, adds that western Canadians also consider reducing greenhouse gas emissions to be top priority.
“Western Canadians are more likely to rate reducing greenhouse gas emissions as a very high or high priority than policy areas such as tax cuts, post-secondary education, and transportation infrastructure,” said Roach. “There is, however, reluctance on the part of many westerners to address climate change if it means harming the economy,” added Roach.
Other key findings of Hot Topics: Western Canadian Attitudes Toward Climate Change include:
Western Canadians vary in the priority that they place on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, with B.C. residents being the most likely and Alberta residents the least likely to rate reducing greenhouse gas emissions as a high or very high priority.
In all four provinces, at least 6 in 10 residents say that reducing greenhouse gas emissions is a high or very high priority.
Almost four in 10 Western Canadians feel that significant greenhouse gas reduction efforts should be made even if doing so hurts the economy. A larger number of Western Canadians favour protecting the economy over reducing greenhouse gas emissions: almost six in 10 feel that greenhouse gas reduction efforts should not be made at the expense of the economy.
Western Canadians are willing to take voluntary steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions – such as increasing home energy efficiency, carpooling, taking transit, walking or biking more, or buying hybrid or energy efficient vehicles – and many report having already done so.
Over four in 10 Western Canadians are willing to pay more for gasoline and to pay more for home heating in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The Canada West Foundation’s Going for Gold Project has been made possible with the support of Western Economic Diversification Canada. Additional funding has been provided by the provinces of British Columbia (Economic Development), Alberta (Employment, Immigration and Industry), Saskatchewan (Enterprise and Innovation), and Manitoba (Competitiveness, Training and Trade).
An inventory of current federal and provincial government energy policies aimed at addressing climate change is available on the Canada West Foundation website: www.cwf.ca.
Other Canada West Foundation initiatives now underway related to Climate Change include the “Getting it Right” project.
Two background studies on climate change policy will be released by the Foundation later this month.