With new aggressive targets to address climate change and an impending provincial election, this is a critical juncture for the energy sector and Ontario’s energy transition. On December 8th, INNOVATIVE’s President Greg Lyle shared some findings from several recent surveys. These included an INNOVATIVE online survey of 1000 Ontario residents between November 4th and 17th, and from a phone survey of 600 Ontario residents between November 10th and 30th.
The public sees climate change as a real problem and are looking for answers. Nearly two-thirds of Ontarians say that climate change is definitely occurring (64%). Further, half (50%) agree that we need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions has quickly as possible. However, most respondents are unaware of what an “energy transition” actually is (45% familiar). When the concept is explained, a plurality (40%) say energy transition policies would help make the world better for future generations but 29% believe these policies will create economic damage for no real gains and 31% are uncertain.
This underlying tension in Ontarian energy transition attitudes creates potential for political polarization in an election year. The plurality of support for the energy transition is mirrored in the attitudes of Ontarian partisans. However, Ontario’s PCs find themselves conflicted. The PC base is more skeptical of climate. However, Premier Ford’s personal supporters who do not identify with the PCs are strongly supportive of energy transition. Since the PC base and Ford personal supporters are divided on the issue, the government may be tempted to put the issue behind them early in the New Year and change the channel to issues that unite their coalition.