A study co-authored by University of Montreal researchers suggests that while 79 per cent of Canadians do not doubt the reality of climate change, 39 per cent don’t believe it is caused by human activity.
The researchers, also from four other universities, including Yale, surveyed a total of more than 5,000 Canadians over the last five years.
“We asked participants if they believed the Earth was getting warmer partly or mostly due to human activities as an indication of climate change,” said lead researcher Matto Mildenberger.
“The skepticism was a bit surprising,” said Erick Lachapelle, who co-authored the study, which is being submitted to a scientific journal for publication and has not yet been peer reviewed.
“I think it is partly because Canadians are less knowledgeable than one might think on the topic.”
The study did not ask what people felt was causing climate change, if they did not believe it was caused by humans.
Researchers did not note whether the proportion of Canadians who thought climate change was caused by humans had changed over the five years of the study.
- 44% of Canadians surveyed believe Earth is getting warmer mostly because of human activities.
- 61% believe Earth is getting warmer partly or mostly because of human activities.
- 66% support a cap and trade system.
- 49% believe taxes should be increased on carbon-based fuels.
Deep divides in belief
Survey respondents seemed to be deeply divided on what is causing climate change, the study suggests.
For example, only 33 per cent of people living in the Fort-McMurray—Cold-Lake riding in Alberta believe climate change is partly or mostly caused by humans.
That compares to 78 per cent in the Quebec riding of Laurier-Sainte-Marie, where the rate is the highest in the country.