Introduction To 3-Part Series: Opinions On Energy And Environment In Canada: A Positive Path Forward Is Possible

There is mounting concern in Canada about conflict over energy and environmental issues. It is easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of conflict and see division everywhere — some days it seems like warring politicians, angry protests and social media fights are the only game in town.

The opinions of so-called ‘ordinary’ Canadians can get short shrift in the process, as can the attitudes of energy and environmental leaders when they’re not in the glare of the media spotlight.

Just how divided are Canadians and energy/environmental leaders on core issues? Are people polarized into incommensurable positions? Are there areas of agreement?

Since 2015, the University of Ottawa’s Positive Energy program has undertaken extensive survey research to answer these questions. This three-part series brings forward the main findings to date and what they suggest for a possible path forward.

Part 1 focuses on areas where Canadians agree. The research reveals that people aren’t as divided as many believe and there are even areas of emerging consensus.

Part 2 focuses on areas where Canadians disagree. The research reveals that while there are issues that divide the country, views aren’t always concentrated at polarized extremes. This is important: Canadians’ opinions may be more amenable to change and compromise than many think.

Part 3 draws on research with the general public and surveys of energy and environmental leaders to suggest some elements of a positive path forward.

The key takeaway from the series? Canadians are less divided than commonly believed — they agree on many fundamental issues. And where they disagree, their views aren’t necessarily polarized into hardened extremes. The same can be said of energy and environmental leaders, who share many common attitudes.

This is encouraging news for those charting a path for Canada’s energy future in an age of climate change. There may be more room for common ground than people think.

Part 1 of the series is available here.