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Poll Says Albertans Want Clean Energy

Alberta is Stephen Harper’s home province, home to the oil sands, and uses more coal-fired electricity than all the rest of Canada combined. With oil prices dropping to $40 a barrel, people in Calgary and Fort McMurray are losing their jobs. This is not where one would expect much support for renewable energy, but a new EKOS Research poll says Albertans want clean energy.

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Invest In Renewables

Seventy percent (70%) of Albertans support investing in renewables like wind and solar to reduce their dependence on coal fired electricity.

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“Albertans do not see why we have to have the dirtiest electricity supply in Canada,” explained Simon Dyer, Alberta Regional Director of the Pembina Institute.

Two-thirds of Albertans (66%) think the government should prioritize diversifying the province’s economy instead of helping the oil and gas industry be more competitive (29% ). Eighty-six percent  (86%) of Albertans want to see more clean technologies.

Lack Of Support For The Oil Sands

Dyer, whose organization commissioned the poll, said even the Albertan media was surprised at the lack of support for the oil sands. This was a sector that has been aggressively marketed by industry and enjoyed government support for decades. Yet only 45% of the respondents said they thought the oil sands should be enlarged. A slightly greater number (48%) thought they should either stay the same size, or be reduced (8% said they did not know).

Wait and See

Support for the provincial government was also weak (36% of respondents said the government is taking the right direction, 31% said it was off track, and 33% did not know).

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Premier Rachel Motley appears to be adopting a “wait and see” approach, as her province’s economy appears to be slipping into the first recession since 2009.

“We’re going to look at how we balance the budget,” Notley told Bloomberg LIVE’s Canadian fixed income conference in New York today. “The drop in the price of oil has caused a price shock for the people of Alberta and we need to be the shock absorber.”

Though the provincial government announced its panel process and promised to have something ready for the UN Climate Conference in Paris, it hasn’t tabled anything yet. Dyer believes the people are waiting to see what she will do.

“Albertans expect the government can develop a plan that both results in emission deductions and protects the economy,” said Dyer.

Support For A Carbon Tax

Under the right circumstances, the majority of Albertans would support a carbon tax. Only 50% were in favor if the revenues were used to reduce income taxes, but 72% were in favor of a carbon tax if the money was used to reduce carbon emissions, like public transit and more energy-efficient buildings, and 76% if it reduced emissions in the oil and gas sector.

 “In BC they’ve had a carbon tax for years and, despite the fear mongering, the provincial economy is growing at a faster rate than the Canadian average,” said Dyer.

Photo Credits: Downtown Calgary by davebloggs007 via Flickr (CC BY SA, 2.0 License); Question from EKOS Research poll; Premier Rachel Notley by Dave Cournoyer via Flickr (CC BY SA, 2.0 License) 

 
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Written By

is the President of Cortes Community Radio , CKTZ 89.5 FM, where he has hosted a half hour program since 2014, and editor of the Cortes Currents (formerly the ECOreport), a website dedicated to exploring how our lifestyle choices and technologies affect the West Coast of British Columbia. He writes for both writes for both Clean Technica and PlanetSave on Important Media. He is a research junkie who has written over 2,000 articles since he was first published in 1982. Roy lives on Cortes Island, BC, Canada.

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