Two-Thirds of Canadians Think, Long Term, Climate Change is as Serious of a Problem as Coronavirus

Six in Ten Think Government Must Act Now to Combat Climate Change; Yet Many are Unwilling to Change Their Own Behaviours

The author(s)
  • Jennifer McLeod Macey Vice President, Canada, Public Affairs
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Toronto, Ontario, April 22, 2020 — A new global study conducted by Ipsos reveals that Canadians may not be as environmentally conscious as others.  Two in three (64%) think in the long term that climate change is as serious of an issue as COVID-19; this compares to a global average of 71%. Moreover, while 55% of global citizens think that one effect of COVID-19 is that it will lead to more people fighting for changes to protect the environment, just 43% of Canadians agree.

Six in ten (61%) Canadians think that in the economic recovery from COVID-19, it’s important that government actions prioritize climate change.  Conversely, 42% think government should focus on helping the economy recover first and foremost, even if it’s bad for the environment.  

Still, 60% of Canadians agree that if their government does not act now to combat climate change, it will be failing all citizens. Despite trailing the global average by a significant margin (-8 pts), this figure represents a clear majority of Canadians. Governments around the world are on notice as majorities agree (57% globally; 52% in Canada) that if a political party’s policies do not address climate change, it would put them off from voting for them.

Three-quarters (77%) of Canadians agree that human activities contribute to climate change. On the other hand, as many as one in ten (11%) do not believe that human activities have any meaningful impact on our climate.

While there appears to be less urgency assigned to climate change in Canada, the public does recognize its importance as an issue. Indeed, 44% of Canadians rank climate change as a top environmental issue, compared to the global average (37%). Nearly half (44%) of Canadians also think dealing with the amount of waste we generate is a top environmental priority, a figure which vastly exceeds the global average (32%).

Ask not what your country can do, ask what you can do to help the environment!

Most Canadians acknowledge that human activities cause climate change and majorities want to see their government act swiftly in response, yet many are unwilling to make individual sacrifices or change their own behaviours. In fact, fewer express a willingness to act on climate change, relative to the global average, across all metrics.

Only half indicate a willingness to buy second hand (51% vs. 52% globally) or avoid products with a lot of packaging (52% vs. 57%) and slightly fewer say they are likely to save energy (45% vs. 50%), water (45% vs. 49%) or recycle (42% vs. 49%). Around one in three (37%) are willing to change their daily travel plans, compared to nearly half (46%) globally.

Canadians love their meat, as fewer than three in ten (28% vs. 41% globally) say they would eat less meat in order to limit their own contribution to climate change, a figure which edges out only Australia (27%), the United States (27%), and Japan (23%). The same holds true for dairy, as just two in ten (22% vs. 35% globally) would eat and drink fewer dairy products in order to limit their contribution to climate change.

Just one in four (24%) Canadians are willing to avoid flying for the betterment of the environment, a figure which not only tracks well below the global average (41%) but is lowest, among all countries surveyed. Alas, Canadians want to see their government act on climate change, yet many do not want to have to take any actions of their own, to help the cause.   

About the Study

These are the findings of an Ipsos Global Advisor survey conducted between February 21 and March 6 and April 16-19, 2020. The survey instrument is conducted monthly in 29 countries around the world via the Ipsos Online Panel system. The countries reporting herein are  Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Chile, Colombia, France, Great Britain, Germany, Hungary, India, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Peru, Poland, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Turkey and the United States of America. For the results of the survey presented herein, an international sample of 20,590 adults aged 18-74 in the US, South Africa, New Zealand, Turkey and Canada, and age 16-74 in all other countries, were interviewed. Approximately 1000+ individuals participated on a country by country basis via the Ipsos Online Panel with the exception of Argentina, Belgium, Chile, Colombia, Hungary, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, Peru, Poland, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden and Turkey, where each have a sample approximately 500+. The precision of Ipsos online polls are calculated using a credibility interval with a poll of 1,000 accurate to +/- 3.1 percentage points and of 500 accurate to +/- 4.5 percentage points. For more information on the Ipsos use of credibility intervals, please visit the Ipsos website. 17 of the 29 countries surveyed online generate nationally representative samples in their countries (Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, South Korea, Spain, Sweden and United States). Brazil, China, Chile, Colombia, India, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa and Turkey produce a national sample that is more urban & educated, and with higher incomes than their fellow citizens.  We refer to these respondents as “Upper Deck Consumer Citizens”.  They are not nationally representative of their country. Weighting was employed to balance demographics and ensure that the sample's composition reflects that of the adult population according to the most recent country Census data, and to provide results intended to approximate the sample universe.

For more information on this Factum, please contact:

Jennifer McLeod Macey

Vice President, Ipsos Public Affairs

[email protected]


About Ipsos

Ipsos is the world’s third largest market research company, present in 90 markets and employing more than 18,000 people.

Our passionately curious research professionals, analysts and scientists have built unique multi-specialist capabilities that provide true understanding and powerful insights into the actions, opinions and motivations of citizens, consumers, patients, customers or employees. We serve more than 5000 clients across the world with 75 business solutions.

Founded in France in 1975, Ipsos is listed on the Euronext Paris since July 1st, 1999. The company is part of the SBF 120 and the Mid-60 index and is eligible for the Deferred Settlement Service (SRD).

ISIN code FR0000073298, Reuters ISOS.PA, Bloomberg IPS:FP

The author(s)
  • Jennifer McLeod Macey Vice President, Canada, Public Affairs