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Canadians Want Climate Action. So What Are the Conservatives Waiting For?

04/24/2015 08:36 EDT | Updated 06/24/2015 05:59 EDT
MARK RALSTON via Getty Images
View of the Syncrude oil sands extraction facility near the town of Fort McMurray in Alberta Province, Canada on October 25, 2009. Greenpeace is calling for an end to oil sands mining in the region due to their greenhouse gas emissions and have recently staged sit-ins which briefly halted production at several mines. At an estimated 175 billion barrels, Alberta's oil sands are the second largest oil reserve in the world behind Saudi Arabia, but they were neglected for years, except by local companies, because of high extraction costs. Since 2000, skyrocketing crude oil prices and improved extraction methods have made exploitation more economical, and have lured several multinational oil companies to mine the sands. AFP PHOTO/Mark RALSTON (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)

A new poll released Wednesday by Angus Reid finds the majority of Canadians support carbon pricing programs and more than half the population would like to see a national climate policy instituted at the federal level.

Although Canadians say they're ready for climate action, there's a lot less certainty surrounding climate leadership at the federal level, according to poll results.

There also appears to be some question about the actual impact of a carbon price but, despite the uncertainty, 75 per cent of Canadians support the idea of a national cap-and-trade program, and 56 per cent support the idea of a national carbon tax.

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Currently Canada has a smattering of province-led carbon price initiatives -- B.C.'s celebrated carbon tax being perhaps the most notable -- although no national program to reduce emissions exists.

"Thankfully, we are past the point of debating whether something should be done and into a discussion of how we are going to stop climate change," Keith Stewart, energy and climate campaigner with Greenpeace Canada, said.

Canada's premiers recently met at a climate summit to discuss provincial contributions to lowering the country's greenhouse gas emissions. Major steps were taken at the summit -- most notably Ontario's decision to join Quebec and California's cap and trade program -- but Canada's national contribution to tackling climate change remain a question.

Canada has no climate legislation and, according to Environment Canada, growing emissions from the Alberta oilsands will prevent the country from meeting its emission reduction targets under the Copenhagen Accord.

The majority of Canadians see climate change as a serious threat to the planet, according to a previous study from Angus Reid, and more than half of the population says the federal government is not doing enough to tackle climate change.

One in five Canadians said climate change would likely be a deciding factor for them in the upcoming federal election. About half of survey respondents indicated climate would be of moderate election importance (four to seven on a 10-point scale).

Stewart was blunt in his reading of the results: "The poll results show that a large majority of Canadians support taking action on solutions to climate change and that anyone looking to replace Stephen Harper as Prime Minister should talk a lot more about how they would do this," he said.

The federal election is expected to take place in October.

In December, countries will meet in Paris at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to reach a new global agreement on climate change. Nations were expected to release their reductions targets at the end of March but Canada declined to submit its plans.

"The only thing the Conservatives are on target to meet is complete failure," NDP environment critic Megan Leslie said at the time. "Mexico has announced its plan. The U.S. is moving forward. When will we stop being international laggards on climate change?"

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