With just over a week before the next major round of UN climate negotiations in Cancun, Mexico, results of an Environics Research poll suggest that the Canadian public has far different priorities than the government when it comes to climate change.
Over 80 percent of Canadians agree that too much focus on economic growth and consumerism is a root cause of climate change. They also affirm that industrialized countries – which have historically produced the most greenhouse gas emissions – bear the most responsibility for reducing emissions.
“The results indicate Canadians understand that the climate crisis requires a change in economic, social, and environmental priorities. If Canadians were deciding our climate policy we would be following a very different path,” says Andrea Harden-Donahue, Energy and Climate Justice Campaigner, Council of Canadians.
The poll also indicates that over 70 percent of Canadians support redirecting of military spending toward efforts that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, as well as the idea of a World Climate and Justice Tribunal to judge and penalize countries and corporations whose actions have contributed climate change. Over 80 percent of Canadians believe the Canadian government should invest in “green jobs” and transition programmes for workers and communities negatively affected by a shift off of fossil fuels.
“These polling results indicate willingness on the part of Canadians for significant change in how we understand and respond to the climate crisis that is in keeping with the main themes discussed at a massive climate conference held last April in Bolivia,” adds Rick Arnold, Coordinator for Common Frontiers.
More than 35,000 people attended the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth in Cochabamba, Bolivia, including delegates from the seven organizations and unions that commissioned the polling. The questions used in the Environics poll were adapted from those agreed to by participants at the World People’s Conference. “The Cochabamba conference was about affirming the need for an alternative paradigm that promotes harmony with nature,” says Clayton Thomas Muller of the Indigenous Environmental Network.
“In sharp contrast to the polling results, the Canadian government continues to justify its inaction on climate change by asserting its need to be in lock-step with Washington,” says Donald Lafleur, 4th National Vice-President of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers. Bill C-311, the Climate Change Accountability Act, which passed the House of Commons last May, was defeated in the Senate two days ago.
The Canadian Government supports the Copenhagen Accord which is not legally binding and does not include mandatory emissions reduction targets. “Even if all the countries that have supported this so-called Accord fulfilled their ‘voluntary’ targets, global temperatures would still rise by nearly 4 degrees Celsius above their pre-industrial levels. This spells disaster for much of the world,” adds John Dillon, spokesperson for KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives.
The results are a clear sign that Canadians need to be consulted concerning this government’s climate policy. “The Harper government should do what’s right, and undertake a national consultation on its climate policy,” says Raul Burbano from Toronto Bolivia Solidarity.
The poll was commissioned by the Council of Canadians, KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives, Canadian Union of Postal Workers, Indigenous Environmental Network, Common Frontiers, Public Service Alliance of Canada and Toronto Bolivia Solidarity.
CLIMATE CHANGE POLL HIGHLIGHTS – read media release backgrounder here.
The telephone poll of 1,000 Canadians conducted October 27 to November 1 2010 has a margin of error of +/- 3.10%, 19 times out of 20.
87% of Canadians strongly or somewhat agreed with the statement: “The root cause of climate change is too much focus on economic growth and consumerism. We need to have an economy that is in harmony with nature, which recognizes and respects the planet.”
85% of Canadians strongly or somewhat agreed with the statement: “Industrialized countries which have historically produced the most greenhouse gas emissions, should be the most responsible for reducing current emissions.”
83% of Canadians strongly or somewhat agreed with the statement that: “The Canadian government should invest in green jobs and have transition programmes for workers and communities negatively affected by a shift away from reliance on fossil fuels.”
77% of Canadians strongly or somewhat agreed with the statement: “There should be a World Climate and Justice Tribunal to judge and penalize countries and corporations whose actions have contributed climate change and damaged the environment.”
71% of Canadians strongly or somewhat agreed with the statement agree that: “The money spent on wars and the military would all be better spent on efforts that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the impacts of climate change.”
For more information about the Council of Canadians’ climate justice campaign, go to www.canadians.org/climatejustice.