How do we change entrenched views?
How do Canadians feel about Indigenous-led conservation?
Where are the gaps in Canadians’ knowledge about biodiversity loss?
Who feels most at risk from the effects of climate change?
These are the types of questions EcoAnalytics’ member organizations ask. The answers, gathered through rigorous research and analysis, enable them and the environmental movement at large to create targeted communications that respond to Canadians’ evolving perceptions, beliefs and understanding of climate change and biodiversity loss, and possible solutions.
Since 2016, EcoAnalytics has conducted three to four major national surveys and rounds of focus groups every year. Our surveys have large national samples (1,000-3,500) and big enough regional subsamples to reveal the changing views of Canadians, nation-wide, over time and in response to local, national and global events. Our focus groups use a variety of qualitative tools – online discussion boards, videoconference focus groups, fixed cohorts consulted over time – to dig deeper into the social values and beliefs underpinning common attitudes. Our researchers are therefore able to draw strong conclusions about the changing state of opinion in critical segments of society, as well as more generally, and offer practical communications guidance on how to connect with Canadians most receptive to your messaging, as well as others within reach.
EcoA Members, Associates and Researchers collaborate to develop each survey or focus group study based on the current needs of each organization and the environmental movement. Our university-based researchers, or private research firms, then field the research, analyze the results and summarize their findings in reports and webinars for Members and Associates. We also share our research results and analysis freely through our website, for the benefit of the environmental movement.
What does this process look like in practice? In February 2022, for example, EcoA Researcher, Dr. Erick Lachapelle reported on the latest results of an annual survey that has tracked opinions and beliefs in Canada about climate change since 2011. He then worked with us and researchers at Environics Research Group to help develop a national omnibus survey that answered questions raised by his research and of keen interest to our Members. How, for example, were concerns about the rising cost of living, war in Ukraine and political polarization (after the Freedom Convoy) influencing Canadian environmental beliefs and attitudes?
Since then, our Members and university-based Researchers have worked with the polling firm on two more rounds of research: qualitative online focus groups and a large national survey that are identifying frames and messages for mobilizing more Canadians in support of transformative policies now before parliament: a cap on oil and gas emissions, a clean electricity standard and the protection of 30% of Canada’s land and oceans by 2030.
An innovative aspect of EcoAnalytics is its use of private polling firms and a cohort of university-based Researchers. We commission firms to do some of our research, and our own Researchers to take on other pieces – e.g., the annual climate survey, mentioned above. This is not only cost-effective, it gives our Membership access to experienced academic researchers from different disciplines – sociology, political science – and from across Canada, as well as pollsters. This is arguably our project’s key to success: the productive conversation EcoAnalytics’s fosters among researchers in the public and private sectors and knowledgeable practitioners of public engagement and campaigning.
Following is a summary of the four rounds of research we conducted In 2021-2022. Check out our database for our summary reports, tabulated results and resulting guidance.
Climate of Change Survey, (2016-2022), Université de Montréal
Annual Climate surveys, conducted by Erick Lachapelle, an Associate Professor of Political Science, have tracked opinions about climate change and energy issues since 2011. Since 2016, EcoAnalytics has sponsored and built on these studies. For example, in the fall of 2021 the EcoA Climate of Change Survey examined Canadian attitudes about climate change (beliefs about causes, risks and costs, etc.) and nature-based solutions in a national sample of 1,000 Canadians. This allowed us to update our tracking of opinion, and focus on how British Columbian perspectives on extreme weather mirrored and differed from those of other regional sub-samples in the aftermath of two historic extreme weather events: a once-in-1,000-year summer “heat dome” that killed 610 people and led to historic wildfires, and unprecedented flooding and mudslides.
Climate Solutions and Bundling of Policies, (June-Nov. 2021), Environics Research
This mixed-mode research included both qualitative online focus groups (June 2021) and a national survey (November 2021). These used powerful research tools: an online discussion board and a statistical survey technique known as conjoint analysis, which determines how people value different attributes of a product, service, or, in this case, government policies). Combined, the two studies revealed important new information about how Canadians understand and talk about climate solutions and potential policies – governing the energy sector, social benefits and environmental protection – to address global warming and loss of biodiversity. The below bar graph illustrates data from the survey on perceptions about the effectiveness of different proposed climate solutions.
Values and Behaviour Analysis, (December 2021), Université de Montréal
This study by EcoA Researchers Marjolaine Martel Morin and Erick Lachapelle revisited a subset of over 2,600 respondents to a major values and behaviour survey first conducted in 2019, (all in the sample were supporters of environmental organizations) to learn more about how the COVID pandemic and other experiences altered the views and behaviour of this select, and important, group.
National Environmental Omnibus Survey, (April 2022), Environics
This survey examined Canadians’ priorities when considering climate change and other urgent problems (cost of living, war in Ukraine, etc.), as well as their beliefs about transitioning to renewable energy to maintain a competitive economy, and the fairness of policy solutions. The graphic below illustrates cross-party support for Canada to prepare its economy for a global transition away from fossil fuels.