Climate change is number one worry for Canadians, study finds

07 September 2020

One in three Canadians sees climate change or global warming as the number one "extremely serious" issue currently faced by the country, according to a newly released Canadian Nuclear Association (CNA) study. Some 78% of those surveyed said they are very concerned about the negative impact of climate change on future generations.

(Image: CNA/Abacus Data)

The survey of a random sample of 1500 Canadian adults was conducted for CNA by Abacus Data from 17 to 21 August. The data were weighted according to census data to ensure that the sample matched the Canadian population for age, gender, educational attainment, and region. It found that 88% of Canadians believe they have been adversely impacted by climate change, with 57% saying they have been significantly impacted.

"The fact that we are living through a global pandemic that has literally rocked the stability of the world we know, and yet climate change is currently cited as the number one extreme issue of concern is very profound," said CNA CEO and President John Gorman.

Some 86% of the population believe the Canadian government should invest in clean technology to address climate change. However, the study also found there is limited understanding around clean energy options. When asked about their level of understanding about clean energy sources, about 50% said they had a good understanding of solar, with a similar percentage claiming a good understanding of hydro and 47% for wind power. Only 35% claimed a good understanding of nuclear.

Over half - 56% - of respondents said their main sources of understanding on nuclear energy is what they recall reading or hearing about many years ago, while 36% cited information in news coverage from the past 12 months. Some 28% cited films, TV and fictional books as their main source of learning about nuclear energy. A large majority - 68% - were unaware that nuclear energy is the second largest source of low-carbon electricity after hydro.

When told that nuclear reactors meet about 17% of Canada's energy needs and have the potential to increase supply significantly, over half those surveyed - 55% - said they support or are open to supporting more nuclear energy technologies to generate electricity in Canada, while 35% said they would like to learn more before forming an opinion. A total of 10% expressed opposition.

"The research shows that while Canadians are hugely concerned about climate change and the vast majority believe the government should invest in clean technology, we still have a way to go in terms of understanding and education around clean energy," Gorman said.

"Nuclear has a critical role to play, and we know that the more Canadians understand nuclear, the more they support it. But we still face many misconceptions. In fact, nearly one in three Canadians report that their primary means of understanding nuclear energy is from pop-culture sources, such as films, TV or fictional books. Knowledge is critical to make the right informed decisions around Canada's energy mix to fight climate change."

Researched and written by World Nuclear News