New polling shows climate change action is top of mind for Calgarians when it comes to their outlook on the future of their city and their priorities ahead of both the federal and municipal elections.
The poll, commissioned by Alberta Ecotrust Foundation, Calgary Climate Hub and Clean Energy Canada, showed 63 per cent of city residents who responded “believe Calgary’s future as a vibrant city is at risk if we do not become a leader in addressing climate change.”
Fifty-seven per cent of respondents also said they want to see Calgary emerge as a leader when it comes to investing in clean energy transitions, with people in all sectors being supported through those changes.
“Calgarians are worried about the future, as 53 per cent do not believe that Calgary is on the right track to be a better city 10 years from now. Plus, well over half (69 per cent) of Calgarians are concerned about climate change impacts,” the research found.
“The data indicates that all levels of government need to invest in Calgary’s economic and environmental future to build a resilient city that supports individuals, families and small businesses through the transition.”
When it comes to the city’s role, University of Calgary assistant professor Dr. Sara Hastings-Simon said there are steps the municipal government can take to reach its goals, and this poll presents a very clear mandate for soon-to-be-elected city representatives.
“It’s true that municipalities can’t act on their own, but at the same time, municipalities have power over many of the things that touch our sort of everyday lives,” she said, pointing to things like buses and land use zoning.
“I think it’s hard for municipalities to get really far ahead the rest of the world, but as we see a world that’s increasingly targeting net-zero, I think it is possible for Calgary to step up and start to implement these things and it’s important so that we don’t end up left behind.”
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This summer’s heat domes, paired with the smoke drifting from the widespread wildfires in B.C., also brought climate change to the forefront for many of those polled, which Hastings-Simon said is an indicator that more people are paying attention.
“I think that when we start to really see and feel the effects of climate change at home, it starts to take on a meaning and a whole new way,” she said.
The poll showed respondents believe transitioning to cleaner energy sources will be hard on small business owners, and want to see investments in helping oil and gas workers transfer their skills to other industries.
“If Alberta does not seriously tackle climate change, 53 percent believe that more youth will leave Calgary, which could expose the community to more social and economic risks in the long-term,” the poll found.
The poll also showed that 64 per cent of Calgarians who responded want to see Alberta establish itself as “an economy that runs on renewable energy.”
Respondents also showed their support for climate change policy initiatives aimed at climate-related transportation and infrastructure changes, the poll showed.
Climate change activists rallied outside Calgary City Hall on Thursday as part of a national day of action calling on representatives to do more to address their concerns.
“(Climate change) is not talked about with the urgency it needs to be,” Mackenzie Cumming with the organization Fridays for Future said outside the municipal building.
“I’m not saying that the climate is a stand-alone issue, but we think that the climate impacts everything, from infrastructure, food security… even health care.”
Cumming said activists are looking for proactivity from elected officials on climate action.
The poll was conducted between Aug. 5 and Aug. 15, and saw 1,000 residents of Calgary surveyed, with eligible voters making up more than 98 per cent of respondents.