By Arman Kazemi
October 8, 2015
A new poll shows that the majority of Albertans support strong environmental legislation in order to reverse the dominance of oil and gas in the province and combat climate change.
The poll was commissioned by the Pembina Institute, a Calgary think-tank and sustainability lobby group. It found that 70 per cent of Albertans want to see “stricter enforcement of the existing environmental rules and safeguards” in the oil sands.
Fully 66 per cent of respondents think the government should diversify the province’s economic profile rather than making the oil and gas industry more competitive. And 50 per cent would support an economy-wide carbon tax.
“Two-thirds of Albertans want action,” the Pembina Institute’s Alberta regional director Simon Dyer told the Globe and Mail. “Albertans are more nuanced than they’re given credit for and they’re having substantive, serious discussions about the pace and scale of oil-sands development.”
The report came as Alberta’s NDP premier, Rachel Notley, spoke at a conference of foreign investors in New York about imposing regulations on the oil and gas sector while boosting an economy that’s suffering from the drop in oil prices. Alberta is currently facing its first recession since 2009.
“The drop in the price of oil has caused a price shock for the people of Alberta,” Notley said, as reported by Bloomberg, “and we need to be the shock absorber.”
Albertans are split on her government’s approach to climate change so far, with 36 per cent expressing confidence that Notley’s administration is heading in the right direction, while 31 per cent showed distrust. The remaining 33 per cent had yet to make up their minds.
Yet in the midst of an election where the environment has become a central issue, the Pembina poll demonstrates an appetite for political intervention on climate issues.
“This poll shows that the public is open to many of the solutions being considered,” Dyer said in a press release. “It’s encouraging to see such strong support among Albertans for action on climate change.”
The poll surveyed 1,855 Albertans and has a margin of error of 2.3 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
Photo Credit: Kris Krug