Only 1 in 2 Canadians believe climate change is a serious issue: survey

The frame of a car sits on the cracked earth at the bottom of the Atibainha dam, part of the Cantareira System responsible for providing water to the Sao Paulo metropolitan area, in Nazare Paulista, Brazil. A Photo/Andre Penner, File

Climate change is on the world’s radar as a significant issue, but a new survey has found a large difference in levels of concern depending which nation you ask.

A Pew Research Centre survey of 40 nations found a global median of 54 per cent consider climate change a very serious problem.

Break that down by nation and you’ll find a wild range: China came in at just 18 per cent agreeing, while an overwhelming 86 per cent of Brazil respondents agreed. Canada fell in the middle, with 51 per cent agreeing global climate change is a very serious problem.

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By region, Latin America and Africa were found to be most concerned about climate change.

Nations with the highest carbon emissions per capita — including Canada, Australia and Russia — were found to be less concerned about climate change.

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“The U.S., with the highest per-capita carbon emissions of the nations surveyed, is among the least concerned about climate change and its potential impact,” the survey stated.

“Publics in Africa, Latin America and Asia, many of which have very low emissions per capita, are frequently the most concerned about the negative effects of climate change.”


[graphiq id=”hOIxyP9zn2R” title=”CO2 Emissions World Map” width=”600″ height=”506″ url=”” link=”” link_text=”CO2 Emissions World Map | FindTheData”]

When the effects of climate change are in question, 56 per cent Canadian respondents agreed it’s already causing harm, with a further 25 per cent agreeing it will in the next few years.

As for those harmful affects, 43 per cent of Canadian respondents said drought is their top concern, followed by severe weather (24 per cent), rising sea levels (15 per cent) and extreme heat (nine per cent).

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Of all respondents, 78 per cent support the limiting of greenhouse gas emissions as part of an international agreement; 84 per cent of Canadian respondents agreed.

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Canadian women were more likely to agree (81 per cent) than men (66 per cent) that personal changes should be made to reduce the effects of climate change. Overall 73 per cent of Canadians agreed a major life style changed is warranted, a touch higher than the global median of 67 per cent of survey respondents.

READ MORE: Trudeau takes more inclusive approach than Harper to climate change summit

New Democrat supporters (86 per cent) are more likely than Liberal (75 per cent) and Conservative (57 per cent) supporters to agree that individuals will need to make major changes in their daily lives to combat climate change.

The survey was conducted between March and May 2015, and based on a total of 45,435 face-to-face and telephone interviews spread across the 40 countries.

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