by Bruce Mason
• On October 2, when Canada’s environment ministers met in Montreal, they were made aware of how Canadians view key climate issues. Topping the list: the majority (66%) of Canadians support an effective climate plan to meet targets.
The new public opinion research revealed a substantial majority of respondents (70%) believe climate change is a significant threat to Canada’s economic future. It also found that 60% support a price on carbon emissions everywhere in the country.
The survey of 1,000 Canadians, conducted by Nanos Research for Clean Energy Canada, was released as federal, provincial and territorial environment ministers gathered to prepare for a First Ministers’ Meeting on climate change later this year.
“The public is sending a clear signal. They’re tired of bickering among politicians,” reported Merran Smith, Clean Energy’s executive director. “Canadians want to see provinces do their part, but they also want the federal government to pick up the slack if provinces don’t deliver necessary results.”
Key findings include: 77% support a national plan that ensures Canada achieves its international climate change targets to reduce carbon emissions; 77% agree that provinces have an important responsibility to reduce carbon emissions by 2030; 66% support federal action if provinces and territories don’t do enough.
The survey was conducted in the days and hours (September 24-27) leading up to the federal government’s sudden, conditional approval of the massive Pacific NorthWest LNG on BC’s northwest coast. One of the largest infrastructure investments in Canadian history, it was the Trudeau government’s first major energy decision, a litmus test of a national climate plan and energy infrastructure.
The 190 legally binding conditions include the first cap on greenhouse gas emissions. “I’m confident that we will address the most important environmental impacts to ensure this project proceeds in the most sustainable manner possible,” Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna, told a September 27 news conference, which was interrupted by hecklers.
“We have always understood that, in order to create the kind of government that people want, we need to both grow the economy and protect the environment,” Trudeau told the House of Commons. “That means folding-in consultations with indigenous leaders, talking to communities, ensuring we get the world-class science done. That is exactly what we did on this project.”
Calling Justin Trudeau “an outright liar,” Donnie Wesley, the highest-ranking hereditary chief of the Gitwilgyoots tribe – which has jurisdiction over Lelu Island near Prince Rupert, where the LNG terminal would be built – said it was “a slap in the face.” Mass protests are in the works and First Nations are launching myriad legal challenges.
The $36 billion natural gas project, led by Malaysia’s tainted PETRONAS, would ship 19 million tonnes of fracked liquefied gas to markets in Asia annually, while pumping more than five million tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, making it one of Canada’s largest single greenhouse gas emitters.
NDP Leader Tom Mulcair said Trudeau had “pirouetted” on his promise to keep pipelines out of the Great Bear Rain Forest, less than 48 hours after visiting it with Royals Prince William and Kate. Mike Hudema of Greenpeace Canada added, “If this is what Trudeau meant when he said, ‘Canada is back on climate,’ then we, and the planet, are in big trouble.”
In light of the survey, Clean Energy ‘s Smith said, “Approving this project is inconsistent with the federal government’s commitments to lead on climate change and clean innovation. The conditions that come with approval set the bar too low.”
Data was collected through random land and cell phone calls, as well as online. Results were statistically checked and weighted by age and gender, using the latest Census information, and geographically stratified to be representative of Canada. The margin of error is ±3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. This clearly indicates how much governments are out of step with the large majority of Canadians who want to join the rest of the world in the quick march away from dirty fossil fuel, including fracked gas, which is glutting markets and is now widely considered to be more harmful than coal.