Climate Change Attitudes North of the Border

Climate Change Attitudes North of the Border

We Americans have a lot in common with our Canadian neighbors – we both have mature economies, speak English, and we all love ham/Canadian bacon.

At Shelton we get asked on a fairly regular basis about Canadian attitudes and behaviors around energy efficiency and sustainability. This year, we’re planning to include Canada in our Energy Pulse survey to see where the similarities and differences exist.

But one thing we can already point to is a difference in climate change attitudes. When it comes to being concerned about climate change, the Canucks are more worried than we are. In fact, according to a poll just released Monday, Canadians think climate change is a more pressing threat than terrorism.

Nearly half the respondents said climate change is a “critical threat” while only 28% categorized terrorism that way. This marks a real departure from last year’s results when climate change and terrorism were practically neck and neck.

Here in the US, terrorism and the environment were also tied at 8% in our Green Living Pulse study. But the economy (59%) and healthcare (14%) took the top two spots.

What’s interesting to me is that Canadians – who haven’t experienced terrorist attacks of the same magnitude as Americans – consider it to be more of a critical threat than we do.

What this also reveals is a sense of insecurity among Canadians – they feel at the mercy of outside forces from terrorists and the environment. There may not be much individual Canadian citizens can do about thwarting possible attacks, but they can do something about reducing their environmental impact.

Thus, there may be an opportunity for a pure environmental message to take hold in Canada.  Particularly one with an empowerment promise.

One more thought on this:  because of what appears to be a drastic difference between how Canadians prioritize the environment and how Americans prioritize it, we can’t really look to Canada’s success stories in the environmental and energy marketing arena and steal from their playbook.  We hear that from time to time:  “Take a look at this campaign, it really worked in Canada…let’s do something like that here.”   The mainstream consumers of the two nations are in different places emotionally and intellectually regarding the environment.  So what works there won’t likely work here.

Again, we’ll explore this further with this year’s Energy Pulse and keep you posted.

About the Author

Karen Barnes

Karen is a former contributor to Shelton Insights.

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.