10/01/2015 05:29 EDT | Updated 10/01/2016 05:12 EDT

The Majority of Albertans Want to See the Province Take Climate Action

Close-up aerial photo of an oil refinery in the Alberta Oilsands, near Fort McMurray.
Dan Barnes via Getty Images
Close-up aerial photo of an oil refinery in the Alberta Oilsands, near Fort McMurray.

A poll of more than 1,800 Albertans conducted by EKOS Research Associates shows more than half the population wants the province to take stronger climate action by introducing policies that limit carbon emissions.

The poll, commissioned by the Pembina Institute, also found 50 per cent of Albertans are in support of a broad price on carbon that would apply to both consumers and producers. Support for a price on carbon jumped by another 10 to 20 per cent if the money generated from the tax were to go towards carbon reducing technologies or projects.

Results also show a large portion of Albertans (66 per cent) want to diversify the province's economy rather than up the competitiveness of the oil and gas industry (29 per cent). Forty-eight per cent of Albertans who took the poll said they feel the oilsands are large enough or should be downsized.

"It's encouraging to see such strong support among Albertans for action on climate change," Simon Dyer, Alberta regional director for the Pembina Institute, said.

"This poll shows that the public is open to many of the solutions being considered, such as an economy-wide price on carbon pollution, or phasing out coal power and replacing it with renewables."

Albertans also expressed a sense of obligation to reduce the province's greenhouse gas output. Alberta is by far the largest emitter in Canada and the oilsands are the country's fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions. Growing emissions from the industrial sector are the reason Canada will not meet its emissions reduction target under the Copenhagen Accord, according to Environment Canada.

It appears Albertans are taking their emissions profile to heart: the majority (56 per cent) said they feel Alberta must reduce emissions to address climate change while only 26 per cent disagreed.

In addition 70 per cent of participants said they want to see more investment in renewable energy sources in order to reduce the province's reliance on coal-fired electricity, a major source of Alberta's emissions.

"This has been a year in which Albertans defy stereotypes, with this poll being one more example," Frank Graves, president of EKOS, said.

"There is a large constituency in Alberta that wants to see the province be an environmental leader on issues like climate change and the development of the oilsands."

Read more from Carol on DeSmog Canada.


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