Part 3 In A Series – Government Performance On Energy And Climate: Canadians Score Governments Poorly Across The Board

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Parts 1 and 2 of this series examined Canadians’ views on a range of energy and climate issues — climate ambition, the current and future of oil and gas, electrification, the electricity mix, energy needs and affordability.

The results show that Canadians tend to be pragmatic in their views on energy, wanting to see an approach to energy systems that solves for both emissions reductions and the energy imperatives of affordability and reliability. (Click here for Part 1, and click here for Part 2.)

How do Canadians rank government performance on energy and climate issues?

Positive Energy has been asking Canadians to score the country’s performance for a number of years now. Unfortunately, people consistently score performance very poorly.


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Clearly, governments have work to do. Digging into the numbers shows where attention should be directed.

Shared vision: lowest scores since tracking began

When asked whether Canada does a very good, good, average, poor or very poor job at developing a shared long-term vision for the country’s energy future, almost six in ten people (59 per cent) say Canada does a very poor or poor job.

This is the worst ranking since we began asking this question in 2017. Less than one in ten Canadians rank the country’s performance as very good (one per cent) or good (eight per cent), down from two in ten in 2017 (three per cent very good, 17 per cent good). 

People in the Prairies and B.C. score the country the lowest (72 per cent and 66 per cent saying poor/very poor, respectively) as do Conservative Party supporters (78 per cent poor/very poor).

Federal-provincial collaboration: scores are poor but holding steady since last year

Scores are likewise very weak for federal-provincial collaboration.

Almost six in ten Canadians say that federal and provincial governments do a very poor/poor job of co-operating on decision-making on energy (23 per cent very poor, 34 per cent poor) and co-operating on decision-making on climate change (23 per cent very poor, 35 per cent poor). These figures held steady in 2024 compared to 2023, but they are worse than they were in 2021.

Residents of Quebec are the least likely to score governments poorly/very poorly on energy collaboration (37 per cent), while residents of the Prairies (79 per cent), men (63 per cent) and right-leaning Canadians (69 per cent) are more likely to provide a rating of poor/very poor. Similar demographic tendencies hold for collaboration on climate.

Keeping energy affordable: somewhat better scores than other areas and improving over time

When asked about governments’ performance ensuring energy is affordable as Canada works to meet its climate change targets, Canadians are over three times more likely to say governments do a very poor/poor job (46 per cent) rather than a very good/good job (13 per cent).

On the positive side, scores in 2023 improved over those in 2022, and the percentage of Canadians who score governments poorly/very poorly is lower than for the previous questions. This question shows similar regional and partisan tendencies to the questions reviewed above.

When asked why they responded the way they did, people who scored government poorly/very poorly most frequently said prices are high for energy, green alternatives and gasoline (36 per cent), followed by the carbon tax is not effective / drives up costs (18 per cent) and governments are not meeting climate targets or not doing enough (10 per cent).

What should we make of how dismally Canadians score performance on energy and climate issues?

In fairness to governments, as we saw in Parts 1 and 2 of this series, Canadians don’t always agree on the country’s energy and climate future, so developing a shared long-term vision is a challenge. Regional differences increase the challenge. They can lead to federal-provincial conflict and the low scores seen on the collaboration questions.

All of this said, as we say in Part 1, there is more alignment on the importance of oil and gas to Canada’s current and future economy than many might think. Ditto when it comes to support for oil and gas exports, especially if they can help combat global climate change.

There is also the recurring theme emerging in Part 2 of this series: Canadians want low emissions energy that is also affordable and reliable.

Developing a shared vision drawing thoughtfully on these elements is well worth considering. So is bolstering federal and provincial efforts to work collaboratively — not confrontationally — on energy and climate issues.

Working together to ensure energy is affordable and reliable while Canada reduces emissions could be especially powerful given how important these matters are to Canadians.

Such efforts could help improve performance scores over time and contribute to the country’s energy and climate success in the years ahead.


Sources: Nanos Research, RDD dual frame hybrid telephone and online random surveys, accurate 3.0 percentage points plus or minus, 19 times out of 20. Survey dates and sample sizes:  January 29th to 31st 2024, n=1114; October 29th to 31st 2023, n=1071; July 30th to August 2nd 2023, n=1081; April 30th to May 3rd 2023, n=1080; January 27th to 30th 2023, n=1054.

Complete survey results available at: https://www.uottawa.ca/research-innovation/positive-energy/publications

Notes: charts weighted to the true population proportion; figures may not add up to 100 due to rounding.


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