Canadians’ Climbing Concern on Climate Change

This past week, the UN Climate Summit grabbed global attention and introduced Canada, and the world, to now world-famous youth climate activist Greta Thunberg. The summit brought together world leaders in an effort to shift the global response on the climate change crisis to the front and centre of each and every government’s policy concerns. Of course, the summit takes place amidst our Canadian election, where the environment is already taking centre stage, with all major party leaders having in fact made bold and ambitious promises on the environment. From green transit incentives, support for net zero buildings, tax cuts for green businesses to the elimination of fossil fuel subsidies, these promises are gathering the attention of Canadians from coast to coast.

Conversations around the environment have been a more central theme in this election in comparison to 2015, as Canadians have become increasing and incredibly concerned over the past four years. New polling data suggests that 25% of Canadians see climate change as their top priority for politicians to act on…now – and 38% believe that Canadian survival depends on immediately addressing climate change.

As all Party leaders are in full campaign mode, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, did not attend the UN Climate Summit as in previous years. He is however taking part in tomorrow’s Montreal climate protest, which is headlining Greta Thunberg. Green Party Leader, Elizabeth May, has confirmed her attendance, and while Andrew Scheer himself won’t be present, he has promised conservative representation. NDP Leader, Jagmeet Singh, will not be attending, but will attend a march in B.C. tomorrow. This could be a missed opportunity for Scheer and other party leaders not to be present to show their support and concern joining, what is estimated to be 300,000 passionate youth voters. During these times, not only are youth voters looking for a leader to satisfy their growing concern on climate change, but the 42% of Canadians that currently view climate change as a national emergency (Ababcus Data, August 2019). However, this contrasts with recent data that suggests that just over 40% of those 18-29 are not even closely following this campaign.

How Canada responds to climate change is an issue that goes beyond the regional debates around carbon tax or pipelines, offshore oil or hydro rates, and directly speaks to the health and future of every Canadian. Party leaders have 25 more days to have those conversations with voters and their party commitments on the environment could make or break their fortunes on election day.

Kait LaForce is an Associate Consultant at Ensight