Erick Lachapelle, Chris Borrick, and Barry G. Rabe

Research: How Canadians (vs. Americans) feel about climate change

March 4, 2014
Key findings report for the

2013 Canada-US Comparative Climate Opinion Survey

Author: Erick Lachepelle, Christopher Borick, Barry G. Rabe
Release Date: March 3 2014
Pages: 20

Download (PDF 300KB)

This report summarizes results from national level surveys on public attitudes toward climate change administered in Canada and the US in Fall 2013. To view these numbers on an interactive map, visit our microsite www.canada2020backup.see-design.com/climatepoll.

Since 2008, the National Surveys on Energy and Environment (formally the National Survey of American Public Opinion on Climate Change) has examined the perceptions and preferences of residents of the United States regarding their views on the existence of climate change and potential policy approaches to address the issue. In 2011, a simultaneous survey was fielded in Canada, providing some comparative perspective on attitudes in the US (Lachapelle, Borick and Rabe, 2012).

In 2013, the Fall 2013 fielding of the National Survey on Energy and Environment (NSEE) was accompanied by a second Canadian wave, supported by the Université de Montréal and Canada 2020.

Results from these surveys allow for direct comparisons between the views of the American and Canadian publics on matters pertaining to climate change and its mitigation, providing insight into one of the factors affecting trends in both emissions and policy trajectories. In what follows, we highlight key findings emerging from the most recent 2013 wave of our comparative project. Where appropriate, some tables draw on findings from previous waves to illustrate the change in Canadian and American public opinion regarding climate matters.

Key Findings

  1. Most Canadians and Americans agree that global temperatures have increased in recent decades, although Canadians are more likely to agree with this view than Americans.
  2. Despite their perceptions of rising global temperatures, however, a substantial number of Canadians and Americans continue to question the extent of a human role.
  3. Climate change is not a major concern for most Canadians and Americans, despite the warnings of climate science.
  4. Strong majorities in both countries support their respective federal governments signing onto an international agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, even ahead of such developing countries as China.
  5. Canadians are roughly twice as likely as Americans to support a carbon tax, although they remain evenly split on this approach to pricing carbon.
  6. Canadians are equally divided on cap-and-trade, though they are more likely to support this policy than are Americans.
  7. Support for renewable portfolio standards (RPS) is relatively high in both countries, though support drops off in the US when a clear price signal is attached to this policy.
  8. Americans are more than twice as likely as Canadians to indicate that they are willing to pay nothing for the production of more renewable energy, while Canadians are more likely to indicate that they are willing to pay more.

Download (PDF 300KB)

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Research: How Canadians (vs. Americans) feel about climate change

Researchers from Canada and the United States have partnered with Canada 2020 to publish their key findings from the Canada-US Comparative Climate Survey, conducted in the fall of 2013. This report delves deeper into the data, analyzing key trends and preferences across a variety of indicators including region, partisan divide, and others. For interactive maps and other data, visit www.canada2020backup.see-design.com/climatepoll

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