Public Opinion on Climate Change Issues: North American and European

In March, Canada 2020 published key findings from polling, comparing U.S. and Canadian attitudes in 2013 and 2011. The results show that 81% of Canadians and 76% of Americans feel that humans have played a role in causing global warming. 77% of Canadians and 57% of Americans were “very concerned” or “somewhat concerned” about climate change. Canadian respondents ranked the importance of domestic policy priorities in the following order: #1: protect the environment (ranked 8.2), #2: strengthen economy and jobs (8.1), #3: show leadership on climate change (7.4), and #4: reduce taxes (6.3) (see http://canada2020.ca/publications/2013-canada-us-comparative-climate-opinion-survey/, or the complete results at: http://canada2020.ca/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/Canada-2020-Background-Paper-Climate-Poll-Key-Findings-March-3-2014.pdf).

The Canada 2020 poll surveyed attitudes to policies to promote renewable energy, and found that Canadians are more likely than Americans to support a carbon tax and are more willing to pay a premium for renewable energy. A new poll of Albertans commissioned by the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment, found that two-thirds of Albertans are willing to pay higher prices for electricity generated by wind and solar power (a majority believed that there are negative health effects related to burning coal) (Reported in the Edmonton Journal at: http://www.edmontonjournal.com/news/Poll+shows+most+Albertans+favour+renewable+energy+over+coal/9584222/story.html).

Contrast these North American attitudes with the responses from a survey reported by the European Commission on March 3rd. Data is provided for the EU, by country, and in some cases by socio-economic and demographic characteristics, with trends since the last survey in 2011. Amongst Europeans, 16% currently feel that climate change is the most important problem facing the world today and 50% feel that it is one of the three most important problems (in Sweden, 39% rank it as the top problem and 81% rank it as one of the top 3). When asked who bears the responsibility for tackling climate change, 48% of Europeans look to their national governments, 41% say with business and industry, and 25% consider themselves to have a personal responsibility for preventing climate change. 80% of European respondents agreed that fighting climate change and using energy more efficiently can boost the economy and jobs in the EU (see a summary at: http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-14-201_en.htm, and the full 97-page report at: http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/archives/ebs/ebs_409_en.pdf).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s