Recent extreme weather has more Canadians worried about climate change’s impact on their health
August 6, 2021
In mid-July, we conducted a national public opinion survey of 1,500 Canadian adults for the Canadian Institute for Climate Choices exploring what impact, if any, the recent extreme heat and wildfires across the country have had on public concern about climate change.
The survey found:
1. A majority of Canadians are extremely or quite concerned about climate change. More than half (52%) say they are extremely concerned or quite concerned about climate change. Another 35% say they are a little concerned while 13% are not concerned at all. Those in BC and Quebec are the most likely to be extremely worried as are those aged 18 to 29 and 60+.
2. 3 in 10 say they have become more concerned about climate change since the heatwave and fires began. 29% of Canadians say they have become more concerned about climate change over the past few weeks including 37% in BC and 30% in Alberta and 34% among those aged 60 and over.
3. Most think climate change will have a negative impact on the health of people living in areas most impacted by climate change and on costs to our public healthcare system and at least 8 in 10 feel it will have some impact on their personal health. There’s broad concern and recognition that climate change will have negative impacts on health outcomes, costs to the health system and on the life expectancy between poor and wealthy people.
4. Since December, there has been an increase in those who feel climate change is directly impacting their health but most still aren’t convinced it is having direct impacts yet. Today, 35% of Canadians think that climate change is directly impacting their health because of poor air quality and the higher risk of floods, forest fires, or storms. That’s 5-points higher than in December 2020. Another 50% don’t think climate change is impacting their health now but worry about its future impact on their health and that of future generations.
For the past few years, concern about climate change has been growing and intensifying. More frequent extreme weather events have put a spotlight on the impact of climate change and are expanding the lens by which people assess the risk of it. The impact on personal health is one area.
Most Canadians are quite concerned about climate change and recent extreme weather and wildfires have intensified that concern. Although most don’t see a direct link between their health and climate change, that is shifting. More and more understand the risk that climate change poses to their health— and within the past 7 months, 1.5 million Canadians have been convinced that climate change is having a direct impact on their health. That shift will continue as the impact of climate change intensifies and evidence of it appears more frequently.
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The survey was conducted online with 1,500 Canadians aged 18 and over from July 9 to 14, 2021. A random sample of panellists was invited to complete the survey from a set of partner panels based on the Lucid exchange platform. These partners are double opt-in survey panels, blended to manage out potential skews in the data from a single source.
The margin of error for a comparable probability-based random sample of the same size is +/- 2.6%, 19 times out of 20. The data were weighted according to census data to ensure that the sample matched Canada’s population according to age, gender, educational attainment, and region. Totals may not add up to 100 due to rounding.
The survey was paid for by the Canadian Institute for Climate Choices
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