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Poll Suggests Harper Government Out of Step With Canadians
OTTAWA/TORONTO - November 18 - With just over a week before the next major round of UN climate negotiations in Cancun, Mexico, results of an Environics Research poll suggest that the Canadian public has far different priorities than the government when it comes to climate change.
Over 80 percent of Canadians agree that too much focus on economic growth and consumerism is a root cause of climate change. They also affirm that industrialized countries - which have historically produced the most greenhouse gas emissions - bear the most responsibility for reducing emissions.
"The results indicate Canadians understand that the climate crisis requires a change in economic, social, and environmental priorities. If Canadians were deciding our climate policy we would be following a very different path," says Andrea Harden-Donahue, Energy and Climate Justice Campaigner, Council of Canadians.
The poll also indicates that over 70 percent of Canadians support redirecting of military spending toward efforts that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, as well as the idea of a World Climate and Justice Tribunal to judge and penalize countries and corporations whose actions have contributed climate change. Over 80 percent of Canadians believe the Canadian government should invest in "green jobs" and transition programmes for workers and communities negatively affected by a shift off of fossil fuels.
"These polling results indicate willingness on the part of Canadians for significant change in how we understand and respond to the climate crisis that is in keeping with the main themes discussed at a massive climate conference held last April in Bolivia," adds Rick Arnold, Coordinator for Common Frontiers.
More than 35,000 people attended the World People's Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth in Cochabamba, Bolivia, including delegates from the seven organizations and unions that commissioned the polling. The questions used in the Environics poll were adapted from those agreed to by participants at the World People's Conference. "The Cochabamba conference was about affirming the need for an alternative paradigm that promotes harmony with nature," says Clayton Thomas Muller of the Indigenous Environmental Network.
"In sharp contrast to the polling results, the Canadian government continues to justify its inaction on climate change by asserting its need to be in lock-step with Washington," says Donald Lafleur, 4th National Vice-President of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers. Bill C-311, the Climate Change Accountability Act, which passed the House of Commons last May, was defeated in the Senate two days ago.
The Canadian Government supports the Copenhagen Accord which is not legally binding and does not include mandatory emissions reduction targets. "Even if all the countries that have supported this so-called Accord fulfilled their 'voluntary' targets, global temperatures would still rise by nearly 4 degrees Celsius above their pre-industrial levels. This spells disaster for much of the world," adds John Dillon, spokesperson for KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives.
The results are a clear sign that Canadians need to be consulted concerning this government's climate policy. "The Harper government should do what's right, and undertake a national consultation on its climate policy," says Raul Burbano from Toronto Bolivia Solidarity.
The poll was commissioned by the Council of Canadians, KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives, Canadian Union of Postal Workers, Indigenous Environmental Network, Common Frontiers, Public Service Alliance of Canada and Toronto Bolivia Solidarity.