Canadians See Future Economy Built on Clean Energy, Not Fossils, National Survey Finds

This article was originally published in The Energy Mix on February 4, 2022.

Nearly 60% of Canadians think clean energy will be “very important” in the Canadian economy in 10 years, compared to fewer than 30% who say the same about oil and gas, according to the latest round of opinion research conducted by Abacus Data for Clean Energy Canada.

“The results paint a picture of a population that believes oil and gas matter to today’s economy, but a striking number also see the clean energy sector as highly important,” Abacus CEO David Coletto writes in a summary of the research results. “What’s more, the public tends to believe that clean energy will become more important over time, while oil and gas will recede in importance.”

Across the country, equal numbers of respondents consider oil and gas and clean energy important to today’s economy, the survey of 1,500 Canadians found. But “in every part of the country but the Prairies, more people think clean energy is important to their provincial economy than oil and gas.” Looking ahead one decade:

• 59% Canada-wide said clean energy will be very important, compared to only 28% for oil and gas.

• 30% said oil and gas will be “not that important at all”, compared to only 8% for clean energy.

• The proportion who said clean energy will be very important rose from 40 to 59% between November 2020 and January 2022. For oil and gas, the percentage grew from 17 to 28%.

“While public opinion is somewhat split on whether the federal and provincial governments are doing the right amount to help shift the country towards a cleaner economy, there are roughly three Canadians who would like to see more action in this direction for every one who would like to see less,” Coletto writes. In Alberta, 34% think the federal government is doing too much and 35% say it isn’t doing enough to shift to a clean economy, and 46% say the province’s efforts are falling short.

Almost exactly half of the respondents—49%—said Canada’s 2030 target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 40 to 45% is about right, while 51% of Conservative Party of Canada voters declared it too ambitious, the research found. Two-thirds said Canada could build a stronger, more competitive economy by meeting the target.

“Canadians see the shift towards cleaner economies as a global trend and one that is gathering momentum and creating economic opportunity along the way,” said Abacus Data Chair Bruce Anderson. “While there are regional and partisan differences,” he added, “the question for most people is not whether the shift to a cleaner economy is inevitable or desirable, but how well Canada will tack with this trend and take advantage of it rather than resist it.”

“Canadians are witnessing governments, major automakers, and big corporations compete on the world stage as they race to secure market share in the growing clean energy sector,” said Clean Energy Canada Communications Director Trevor Melanson. In the 14 months between surveys, “building Canada’s clean economy has gone from being from a nice idea to a necessary reality.”

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