Before the outbreak of the pandemic, according to the surveys, most Canadians were seriously concerned about climate change. Our survey in Bonfield ended with the same results. However, right after the pandemic, the number one policy issue for the majority of Canadians changed to public health and the economy. Public concerns are dynamic and change rapidly. This change has been tracked closely in the last year. Since last summer, one out of two Canadians believes that this is the right time to invest in climate goals rather than an OK time or a wrong time. This was confirmed after repeating the procedure.
After achieving consistent results, the University of Ottawa researchers started digging deeper to learn more about the causality behind the results of this survey to understand the motivation of citizens. The pandemic helped Canadians think about the urgency of climate change. At the beginning of this survey, 21% of Canadians believed that actions had to be taken immediately. Now, this number has grown to 39%. This indicates that the risks of inaction in a crisis are better understood these days. Despite this growing concern among Canadians, not everybody has the same idea. After several repetitions, it was found that more than one-third of Canadians either extremely agree or disagree about climate change. This suggests a pattern of polarization in Canada which potentially puts the politicians in a difficult position as either of these groups might not be open for discussion and negotiations. Another key question in this survey was the source in which Canadians trust the most about climate change. Similar to the findings of the survey in Bonfield, the number one source of trust was academics followed by environmental agencies and media. This can help politicians to select a proper approach in raising public awareness to gain buy-in. While the ambition for climate change action in Canadians has been relatively consistent, many citizens have recently changed the level of urgency in their minds. They want the government to take the required measures and are ready to participate in a fight against climate change. This is a necessary step toward the climate goals. What maintains this momentum is a mobilization at the community level which seems to grow even more recently. This is the time to reshape the future of Canadians.