05/23/2012 04:09 EDT | Updated 07/22/2012 05:12 EDT

Even Alberta Agrees, Oil Cannot Be Forever

Canadians want their government to develop a national energy strategy that would protect the environment and help the country reduce its reliance on fossil fuels.

That's the takeaway of a recent national poll, published earlier this month in the trade magazine Alberta Oil. But it's received little attention anywhere else.

This past winter, Leger Marketing randomly selected more than 1,400 Canadians from every region of the country except the North, and asked them a series of questions regarding their views on energy, including their appetite for a national energy strategy.

Alberta Premier Alison Redford has recently come out in support of a Canadian energy strategy. In January, she told the Economic Club of Canada that, while clean energy and efficiency would be important elements of such a plan, it should at its core enable new pipelines.

"Forging stronger links with Asia will be a key part of any Canadian energy strategy," Redford said.

The Alberta Energy survey is the first strong indication that Canadians are not only ready for an energy strategy, but that they feel it should help transition the nation to cleaner energy. Key findings:

  • A full 92.1 per cent of Canadians agreed that developing a national energy strategy needs to be a public priority, and 85.1 per cent of Albertans agreed.
  • Some 72 per cent of those surveyed agreed that "Any national energy strategy should be focused on reducing our reliance on non-renewable energy." (Even in oil-rich Alberta, 65.3 per cent agreed with this statement.)
  • 83.7 per cent of those surveyed felt that, when it comes to a national strategy, "Energy in all its forms needs to be considered."
  • Just 26.6 per cent of those surveyed agreed with the statement that "Canada is a leader in green energy technology." Meanwhile, 38.4 per cent didn't answer, while 35 per cent of respondents disagreed.
  • 81.2 per cent agreed with the statement "Are you concerned about Alberta oil sands greenhouse gas emissions?" (74.9 per cent of Albertans were as well.)
  • Only 32.2 per cent agreed that "Economic benefits of oil and gas development outweigh environmental concerns." 27 per cent didn't answer the question, and 40.8 per cent disagreed.

Earlier this year, my team hosted a series of workshops across the country with business, academic and other non-government leaders. They told us that if we want Canada to remain strong and prosperous, we must make a plan to shift from the oil-focused economy we have today, to the clean energy economy we want and need tomorrow.

The Alberta Oil survey findings suggest that the general public is, to a large degree, on the same page.