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Poll shows Canadian enthusiasm for renewables

TORONTO, Ontario, CA, 2003-10-01 (Refocus Weekly) There is “almost unanimous support” in Canada for the use of renewable energy to generate electricity, according to a national survey.

Canadians “overwhelmingly support” the use of solar and wind to generate power by 96%, says Environics Research Group, with 78% rating their support as ‘strong’ and 18% as ‘somewhat’ supportive. One percent ‘somewhat oppose’ and 1% ‘strongly oppose’ renewables, with 2% not answering. The 96% level compares with 94% support from the last omnibus survey conducted in 1991.

When asked about other energy sources for power generation, 92% ‘somewhat’ or ‘strongly’ supported hydroelectricity, 80% liked natural gas, 50% backed nuclear and 29% supported coal, according to Environics.

The survey of more than 2,000 adults in July was commissioned by the Canadian Nuclear Association to assess attitudes toward nuclear reactors, including the perceived benefits and concerns about nuclear technology and the issue of nuclear waste. Respondents were asked for their views on the other sources after they had provided comments on nuclear.

Of the 92% that supported hydroelectricity, 60% were in the ‘strongly support’ level.

“These findings clearly indicate that, while support for nuclear energy is noticeably higher than that for coal, support for nuclear energy is considerably lower than support for solar and wind power, hydroelectric power and natural gas,” says Environics. “Strong support for solar and wind power tends to increase as education and income levels increase,” with strong support higher among residents of British Columbia and among supporters of the New Democratic Party and Canadians between the age of 45 and 59.

English-speaking Canadians are “much more likely” than French-speaking residents to strongly support renewables, with residents of Quebec and Canadians over 60 “relatively less likely” to strongly support solar and wind.

Men are more inclined than are women to strongly support hydroelectric power, with strong support from affluent and educated Canadians, supporters of the Bloc Québécois party and retired Canadians.

“Canadians generally continue to have a great deal of difficulty identifying any benefits associated with nuclear technology,” with frequently identified benefits including less harm to the environment than other energy sources and its cost-effectiveness.