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Only two per cent of Canadians don't believe in climate change: poll

Only two per cent of Canadians don't believe climate change is happening, and British Columbians are among the Canadians most likely to believe that it is due to human activity, a new poll says. But almost none of us support a carbon tax to reduce greenhouse emissions.

The online poll was conducted in late May and early June by Insightrix Research on behalf of IPAC-CO2 Research Inc., a Saskatchewan firm specializing in carbon capture and storage. IPAC published the result in a news release on August 15. The release listed some responses to reduce emissions:

A total of 35 per cent of Canadians believe the priority should be to promote cleaner cars running on electricity or low-carbon fuels while only 16 per cent favored a tax on carbon dioxide emissions from the whole economy. Support for a carbon tax is lowest in B.C. (six per cent) and highest in Quebec (24 per cent).

The report itself summarized Canadians' views on the reasons for climate change:

Canadians most commonly (54 per cent) believe that climate change is occurring partially due to human activity and partially due to natural climate variation. One third (32 per cent) believe that climate change is occurring due to human activity while one in ten (11 per cent) believe that climate change is occurring due to natural climate variation or that climate change is not occurring at all. Residents of the Prairie Provinces are least likely to believe that climate change is occurring due to human activity, while residents of Quebec, Atlantic Canada and British Columbia are most likely to hold this belief. The perception about the causes of climate change has not changed notably since 2011.

Television (76 per cent), online sources (62 per cent) and newspapers (54 per cent) remain the most commonly mentioned sources for information about climate change.

A key purpose of the poll was to identify the level of support for carbon capture and storage (CCS). It found support for the idea, especially when building new power plants burning coal or natural gas, but many have safety concerns:

Quebec residents (71 per cent) would be concerned if carbon dioxide was stored underground within 1.5 kilometres to 3 kilometres from their home, while Saskatchewan residents (43 per cent) were the least worried.

Residents of B.C. (60 per cent) are most likely to believe that the storage of carbon dioxide represents a safety risk in the future. Again, Saskatchewan residents (48 per cent) are significantly less likely to hold this belief.

However, most Canadians still don't know about CCS: "Last year 14 per cent claimed to have heard of CCS and know what it is compared to 17 per cent this year."

Crawford Kilian is a contributing editor of The Tyee.

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