Duel of realities? Age and political ideology divide Canadians on cause and threat of climate change


Former Conservative voters are much more likely to say climate change is an unproven theory

November 30, 2018 – Canada’s place having recently been reconfirmed among the biggest emitters of greenhouse gases, the Trudeau government finds itself under increased pressure and scrutiny following a United Nations report indicating that this nation to fail emission reduction targets.

But just over a month away from the implementation of a federal carbon tax ostensibly aimed at reducing Canada’s carbon footprint, new public opinion data from the Angus Reid Institute reveals that one in three Canadians is skeptical about whether climate change is a fact caused by human activity. .

Demographic differences among Canadians on age and political ideology largely drive differences on this contentious issue.

For example, Canadians aged 18 to 34 seem to have a higher sense of seriousness than older respondents when it comes to the threat of climate change.

And while more than four in five former Liberal and New Democrat voters believe climate change is a fact (81% and 85% respectively), that drops to just a third of those who voted for the Conservative Party in 2015.

More key results:

  • Half of Canadians (49%) say they have noticed significant changes in their local climate. Another 37 percent say they think they’ve noticed changes, but not major ones.
  • Nine out of ten Canadians say they believe the global temperature is rising. This percentage drops to 71% among former Conservative voters and reaches near-unanimity among former Liberals (95%) and New Democrats (96%).
  • While three-quarters of Canadians say something can be done to reduce global climate change, they are less convinced that they themselves can have an impact. Overall, six in ten (61%) say they feel they can help personally – this feeling is highest in Quebec (80%)


  • Have you noticed any weather changes?

    • Is the global temperature rising?

  • Young people more concerned about potential threat from rising temperatures

  • Climate change: real? Natural? Of human origin?

  • Most say they can help reduce climate change on a personal level

    • Majority of CCP Voters Say Something Can Be Done, But Not By Themselves

Have you noticed any weather changes?

One of the hypothetical impacts of climate change is a change in the weather. Climate change proponents will note that the 20 hottest years on record have arrived over the past 30 years. The storms have become more violent, and ribs shrink. But have Canadians noticed changes in their own communities and neighborhoods?

Half of respondents (49%) across the country, and at least three in ten respondents in every region, say they have noticed significant climate change that they believe is attributable to human-induced climate change. Next to them, another four in ten (37%) say they may have noticed a change, but it’s not something they consider major. Only 14% of Canadians say they have noticed no difference in recent years. Residents of Saskatchewan are most likely to say they have seen no change, while residents of Quebec are most certain they have:

Opinions differ on this question between men and women, and from one generation to another. For example, two-thirds of young women (66%) say they have seen significant changes, while less than four in ten Gen X men agree. Women of all age groups are more likely to say climate change is obvious to them:

Regardless of political line, six in ten former centre-left voters (62%) say they have noticed a significant change, more than double the number of former Conservative voters who say the same:

Is the global temperature rising?

Regardless of what they may have noticed themselves, when asked whether they agree or disagree that the global temperature is indeed rising, the consensus is easier to find: 87% of Canadians are Okay.

This sentiment is almost unanimous in Quebec and Atlantic Canada, falling to a smaller but still significant majority in Alberta and Saskatchewan:

Federal electoral trends in these provinces correlate with views on this issue when examined from a political perspective. While significant majorities among the bases of all three major political parties agree that the earth is getting warmer, a full fifth (21%) of former Conservatives disagree, compared to just 3% of former Liberals and New Democrats:

In view of the data available on this subject, several international monitoring agencies agree that the global temperature is indeed increasing:

Young people more concerned about potential threat from rising temperatures

When asked whether they consider climate change a threat or not, more than half of 18-34 year olds (55%) say they consider it very serious. Overall, only one in ten Canadians (9%) say they do not perceive a threat.

angus reid institute

Climate change: real? Natural? Of human origin?

The debates on climate change are likely to agitate both camps. In Canada, the impending implementation of a federal carbon tax for jurisdictions that do not wish to create their own emissions reduction plan has raised the profile and temperature of the national debate. At the federal level, each of the three main federal parties says they are in favor of achieving the objectives of the Paris Agreement, although the Liberal government’s plans are deemed insufficient according to a recent United Nations report and the conservatives have no details yet of the path they would take if they were in power.

Related – Carbon Pricing: Rebate Announcement Approves Federal Plan, Slim Majority Now Backs It

A complete majority of all age and gender cohorts in this country agree that climate change is a fact and that it is primarily caused by human activity, although men over 35 are more inclined to believe that the changes are natural:

One in three former CCP voters say they believe global warming is mainly due to human activities. The same number say they believe in the principle of global warming, but that it is a natural process. Three in ten Conservatives disagree (21%) or are not sure (9%) that climate change is a fact. This contrasts sharply with the opinions of those who voted for the NDP or the Liberal Party in the 2015 election:

Another key issue in this question is trust. Indeed, when asked who is most credible when it comes to climate change information, Canadians are more likely to choose academic scientists – eight in ten (78%) do so. Proponents of action on climate change have often cited the scientific consensus, which suggests that warming trends are extremely likely due to human activity. A majority of Canadians (56%) also say they trust international organizations working on this issue.

However, less than half say they trust the news media (47%) and their federal government (45%) on this matter, while less than four in ten (37%) say they trust their own provincial government. :

angus reid institute

There are again notable differences on this issue when viewed through the prism of past policy preferences:

Most say they can help reduce climate change on a personal level

If climate change is indeed a threat and reducing emissions is a necessary component of mitigation, Canadians are generally positive about the role they can personally play. Overall, Canadians are twice (61% to 29%) as likely to say there is is a role they can play as individuals in efforts to reduce global warming. Although young Canadians are the most likely to say they can make a difference, a clear majority of each generation say they have something to offer:

However, the outlook differs significantly by region, with Saskatchewan residents somewhat at odds, Albertans divided and Quebec residents the most optimistic:

angus reid institute

Moreover, one in five Canadians say they ultimately don’t believe there is anything that can be done to reduce global warming – a remarkably consistent proportion across the country. The vast majority (73%) disagree that any action taken will be in vain:

By comparing these two perspectives, it is clear that, regardless of their political opinion, Canadians are more likely to say something can be done than on a broader level than to believe that they themselves can to have an impact. Notably, only four in ten Conservatives say they believe they can help reduce emissions and fight global warming:

angus reid institute

the Angus Reid Institute (ARI) was founded in October 2014 by pollster and sociologist Dr. Angus Reid. ARI is a national, nonprofit, nonpartisan public opinion research foundation established to advance education by commissioning, conducting, and disseminating to the public accessible and accessible statistical data, research, and policy analysis. on economics, political science, philanthropy, administration, domestic and international affairs, and other socio-economic issues of importance to Canada and its world.

For detailed results by age, gender, region, education, and other demographics, click here.

The detailed results by age within the groups of voters have been published on request. Click here to see them, and please note the small sample sizes.

Click here for the full report, including tables and methodology

Click here for the questionnaire used in this survey


Shachi Kurl, General Manager: 604.908.1693 shachi.kurl@angusreid.org @shachikurl

Dave Korzinski, Research Associate: 250.899.0821 dave.korzinski@angusreid.org


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