July 30, 2007

Survey finds Canadian consumers willing to pay green power premium

A new survey by TNS Canadian Facts ranks climate change far ahead of any other issue affecting the world today in the minds of Canadians. The vast majority (91%) agreed that climate change is a serious issue, compared with war (7%), turmoil in Iraq and the Middle East (6%), conflict in Afghanistan (5%) and poverty (5%). Almost the same percentage of those polled (89%) supported immediate action. This view is driven by a clear sense that global warming is not merely a theory: more than eight in ten are convinced that it has been scientifically proven.

In general, the survey indicated that Canadians are most willing to do the fairly easy and cost-free activities to reduce their environmental footprint. The top three actions Canadians are most likely to take to help the environment are recycling (91% definitely will), purchasing energy-efficient appliances (66%), and replacing traditional light bulbs with environmentally-friendly ones (63%). But they are still reluctant to change their driving habits, the survey found.

While availability and methods of purchase vary across jurisdictions, respondents reported a high level of interest in low-impact renewable, green power. A majority, however, are not aware of the main options when purchasing green power: bundled green power (23% aware), power certificates (16%), or from independent retailers (17%).

Moreover, when it comes to their specific area, only 9% said they were aware that they can purchase green power in their area and even fewer (3%) reported actually doing so. Nevertheless, just over half (55%) the Canadians polled said they probably (36%) or definitely (19%) would buy green power if there were a 10% premium for obtaining half of their power from environmentally-friendly renewable sources. Atlantic and Quebec residents were found to be the most likely to support the purchase of green power.

"Green power options clearly empower citizens to make environmentally responsible decisions and while many claim to be willing to pay the added price, it is clearly only those most committed to environmentalism and who have the financial resources to afford to do so who will carry through on their good intentions," said Richard Jenkins, vice-president of TNS Canadian Facts.

Despite the public salience of the issue, there is a sense that governments of all levels are not doing enough to tackle global warming. Seven in 10 Canadians think the federal government (72%) and their provincial government (70%) are not doing enough. Municipalities, perhaps surprisingly, are more likely to be viewed as doing the right amount (32%) but even here many Canadians would like to see more action (59%) through eco-friendly programs and policies.

The survey, conducted between July 9 and 13, consisted of telephone interviews of 1,016 nationally representative Canadian adults. The survey results are considered accurate to 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. More information is available on the TNS Canadian Facts Web site, www.tns-global.com.

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