Priorities & Preferences

Where does addressing climate change rank in Canadians’ priorities? What frames are more successful at appealing to those less inclined to support an energy transition? How much do Canadians trust the government’s efforts on climate change?

In the spring of 2022, EcoAnalytics commissioned Environics Research to conduct an Omnibus survey to explore the answers to these questions and more. The online survey gathered opinions from 1037 people across Canada, between April 18th to 23rd. This survey built on the previous two rounds of EcoAnalytics research, further expanding our large body of research. 

The survey was conducted in the context of changing world conditions like the rising cost of living and the war in Ukraine, allowing our members to gather timely data on Canadians’ perceptions and priorities.

The research indicates that in terms of priorities, climate and biodiversity issues sit squarely within the group of issues (like the pandemic, inflation and Ukraine invasion) that most Canadians want addressed now. More than 70% want immediate action on climate and biodiversity. Almost 20% want climate/biodiversity prioritized above all else, while 52% want climate/biodiversity along with addressing other important issues.  

There is widespread preference for action now on climate change and biodiversity loss. The desire to focus on more than one thing at a time (climate change/biodiversity loss as well as other issues) is higher among women and older Canadians (30+).  

Interesting preferences also emerged around certain frames for describing a transition off carbon. Frames that focus on keeping the Canadian economy ready and competitive for a post-carbon future are appealing even to those who are otherwise not very interested in prioritizing climate action. These groups also support frames around an energy transition that highlights supporting small businesses to lower their energy use and save money, as opposed to frames around cost of extreme weather or transitioning now to avoid paying more in the future when power plants will need to shut down.

This graphic illustrates the inclination towards preparing the economy for a post-carbon future world by federal voting tendencies. (NDP – New Democratic Party, CPC – Concervative Party of Canada)

We also compared the frame, a ‘just transition’ with a ‘fair transition’ to understand if there was a difference in how well these terms resonate with Canadians in the context of a question on whether governments should help oil/gas workers make this transition. For the most part they performed on par. However folks in the prairies respond much better to the term ‘just’ and older respondents (+70), across the country, seem to prefer ‘fair’.

The survey also includes some interesting data on current trust levels of the Canadian public around competency and integrity in the federal government, with regards to efforts on climate change and biodiversity loss. This builds off EcoAnalytics researcher, Dr. Louise Comeau’s recent work in this space and will continue to be explored in future research. The results and details of the study were presented to members and subscribers, along with guidance on how to incorporate the findings into their communications work.