April 10, 2006

Sustainability survey finds support for resource protection, energy efficiency measures

Canadians want a prosperous economy, but not at the expense of future generations. A cross-Canada survey, conducted as part of the Sustainability Research Initiative, found overwhelming support for measures to protect and manage natural resources, promote energy efficiency and reduce traffic congestion (and resulting air emissions).

The survey findings were presented by James Hoggan and Associates at the Globe 2006 environmental conference and trade fair in Vancouver. Company president Jim Hoggan said the results demonstrate that Canadians want the economy to be successful today while sustaining the country's environmental, economic and social resources for future generations.

McAllister Opinion Research, in Vancouver, polled 2,500 Canadians in all provinces except Quebec between February 14 and 21, 2006. The survey found that:

*92% of respondents agreed that Canada should phase in mandatory standards requiring all new buildings and appliances to become 50% more energy-efficient within ten years;

*83% favoured reducing federal taxes on income, payroll and investment and replace them with taxes on pollution and depletion of natural resources; and

*82% thought Canada should introduce laws to promote denser, walkable cities that would make public transit more practical and reduce traffic congestion.

More than seven in ten of the respondents agreed with the statement, "If everyone in the world lived the consumer lifestyle we enjoy in North America, we would destroy the planet."

"More than 90% of Canadians fear that over-consumption of the world's resources threatens the health and welfare of their children - and lack of government leadership is the biggest cause of the problem," Hoggan said. "Asked why Canadians don't behave more sustainably, 48% of Canadians blame government leadership first."

Hoggan also said companies and organizations need to do a better job of explaining the term "sustainability". The survey found that 53% of respondents were not familiar with the term "sustainability," and 70% of respondents could not define the term.

"Most Canadians don't know what sustainability means. The term means different things to different people. The result is that most companies and organizations are talking to themselves and a small group of insiders when they use the term," he said.

Once given a definition of sustainability, over 80% of Canadians ranked it as a high or top national priority.

The Sustainability Research Initiative (SRI) is the most comprehensive research program ever undertaken to ascertain the views and values of Canadians on the issue of sustainability. It is being led by James Hoggan and Associates and the Globe Foundation, with research firms McAllister Opinion Research, StoryTellings(TM) and ViewPoint Learning.

SRI sponsors include the University of British Columbia (home to the Sustainable Development Research Initiative, established in 1991), BC Hydro, Alcan, the Greater Vancouver Regional District, Canadian Pacific Railway, Concord Pacific, the David Suzuki Foundation, The Ethical Funds Company, the Lefebvre Foundation, the Fraser Basin Council, the International Centre for Sustainable Cities and the Port of Vancouver.

More information is available from Susan Kirk at James Hoggan and Associates, 604/561-9697, E-mail skirk@hoggan.com.

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