10/29/2014 01:24 EDT | Updated 10/29/2014 01:59 EDT

Climate Poll: 62% Of Canadians Say Climate More Important Than Energy Prices


A slim majority of Canadians are in favour of a carbon tax that would be charged on businesses, according to a new poll that suggests the Harper government is offside with most Canadians on climate policy.

Fifty-three per cent of respondents in the Nanos Research poll said the government should impose a tax on businesses based on carbon consumption, while only 11 per cent chose instead a carbon tax aimed at consumer goods such as gasoline and heating oil.

Twenty-nine per cent backed the Harper government’s position and said there should be no carbon tax of any kind.

On attitudes towards the environment, nearly two-thirds — 62 per cent — said the environment was more important than energy prices. Twenty-eight per cent said energy prices were more important.

Regionally, Quebecers were most likely to say the environment trumps energy prices (69.4 per cent), while Atlantic Canadians were the least likely to say so (56.1 per cent).

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“What’s interesting is that Canadians are cross-pressured,” Nanos Research head Nik Nanos said in an email exchange with Bloomberg.

“On the one hand they don’t want new consumer taxes but at the same time they have environmental aspirations.”

The poll comes days after news of an internal Environment Canada report showing the country will not even come close to meeting its Copenhagen Accord emissions targets.

Under that agreement, the Harper government committed Canada to cutting emissions to 17 per cent below 2005 levels, by 2020. The legislation needed to make that a reality still has not been tabled.

An annual report from the the Climate Action Network Europe and Germanwatch this year ranked Canada in last place among industrialized nations when it comes to addressing climate change.

Worldwide, only Kazakhstan and Saudi Arabia ranked lower than Canada.

Nanos Research carried out the poll for the Thousand Islands Energy Research Forum, a joint partnership of Queen's University, The Royal Military College, the University of Ottawa and a number of U.S. institutions.

The poll surveyed 1,000 Canadians between Oct. 18 and Oct. 21, and has a margin of error of +/- 3 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

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