Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Canadians Want the 'Yes' Side and Say 'No' to Harper's Inaction on Climate Change

I'm currently reading Climate Cover-Up: the Crusade to Deny Global Warming, and it has made me even more aware of the well crafted campaign to steer us away from our concern for the planet, to think only of the economy.

However, I was pleased that a recent poll concluded that we haven't been dragged completely to the dark side yet and in true Canadian spirit, we have chosen "yes" to action.

Who knows what they're going to hit us with next, but simply ignoring this is not going to make it go away, despite Stephen Harper and his Reformers.

Tories trail public on climate change: poll
By Bruce Cheadle

OTTAWA — Rich countries such as Canada need to commit to aggressive new targets to curb global warming, regardless of what less-developed nations do, say a majority of respondents to a new poll.

The Canadian Press Harris-Decima survey suggests voters may be out in front of the Conservative government when it comes to negotiating a new global treaty on climate change.

By a two-to-one margin (62-27), respondents said they believed Canada and the United States have a responsibility “to set higher and harder targets” for greenhouse-gas reductions than “fast-growing” countries such as China and India.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his ministers have consistently argued that the Kyoto Protocol was seriously flawed and that the next global agreement must include all developing nations if it is to be effective.

Environment Minister Jim Prentice was quoted this week saying he’s not optimistic that such a deal can be completed in December at a United Nations conference in Copenhagen.

“I have to take a realistic view that, given the amount of work that remains to be done, we’re running out of time,” Prentice told the Globe and Mail.

Fifty-six per cent of the more than 1,000 Canadians surveyed by Harris-Decima didn’t believe Canada’s approach to climate change is ambitious enough or aggressive enough, with 34 per cent saying it was about right and seven per cent saying it was too ambitious.

Pollster Doug Anderson suggested Friday the Conservative climate-change argument has been heard by Canadians, and rejected.

“I think (the poll) is Canadians trying to send a message themselves,” Anderson said in an interview.

Almost three-quarters of respondents said the current focus on the environment is not going far enough.

Environmental polls have been influenced by strong emotions for years now, said Anderson: “One of the emotions we hear from people is that this is such a serious issue that we really want to see action.”

That emotion, added the pollster, can drive opinion responses that “aren’t totally rational.”

Canada, the United States and Australia are among developed nations who want to ensure the next climate-change treaty leverages global buy-in — and a global effort is broadly endorsed by Canadians, Anderson argues.

But the poll found that a strong majority of respondents in every region except Alberta endorsed the notion of developed countries doing more, rather than waiting to commit “until fast-growing countries like India and China do the same.”

Albertans were evenly split on the question, while self-identified Conservative supporters only marginally favoured early Canadian action.

In terms of influencing government support, Anderson said the environment remains high on Canadians’ priority list but has been superseded by economic concerns.

“Right now I don’t think environment is the issue that necessarily makes (voters) say ‘that’s why I think these people should be running the place.”’

He doesn’t see the Dec. 7-18 Copenhagen summit as a make-or-break time for the Harper government. “I think Copenhagen is probably going to refocus attention,” said the pollster.

The telephone survey, conducted Oct. 15-19, has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points, 19 times in 20.

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