Canadians in every riding support climate action, new research shows

Different take than national and provincial polling but interesting approach to riding-level analysis. Others better placed to comment on the methodology:

Canada is gearing up for a big election this fall and climate policy will likely be at the centre of debate. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberals are trumpeting their carbon pricing policy, while Andrew Scheer’s Conservatives want to get rid of it. Meanwhile, Elizabeth May and her newly relevant Greens think Canada must do more to manage the climate crisis.

But where do Canadian voters stand on this issue?

Our research team, based at the Université de Montréal and the University of California Santa Barbara, has new public opinion data to answer this question. Using recent statistical and political science advances, we can estimate Canadian opinion in every single riding across the country (except for the less densely populated territories, where data collection is sparse). And we’ve released on online tool so anyone can see how their local riding compares to others across the country.

Canadians are concerned about climate change

Our results reinforce what is increasingly clear: climate change is on the minds of Canadians, and not just in urban or coastal communities. A majority of Canadians in every single riding believe the climate is changing. The highest beliefs are in Halifax, where 93 per cent of the public believe climate change is happening.

Percentage of Canadians, by riding, who believe climate change is happening. Author provided

And a majority of Canadians in all but three ridings think their province has already experienced the impacts of climate change. These beliefs are particularly high in Québec, where 79 per cent feel the impacts of climate change have already arrived.

Canadians also want to see the government take the climate threat seriously.

A majority of voters supports emissions trading. Carbon taxation is more divisive, yet more people support carbon taxation than don’t in 88 per cent of Canadian ridings.

And the handful of ridings that don’t support the Trudeau government’s carbon pricing policy — Fort McMurray-Cold Lake, for example — are already in Conservative hands.

 

In other words, the path to a majority government — or even a minority government — goes through many ridings where Canadians are worried about climate change and want the government to take aggressive action.

Compared to the United States, the Canadian public believes climate change is happening in far higher shares. Even Canadian ridings where belief in climate change is the lowest have comparable beliefs to liberal states like Vermont and Washington. Overall Canadian support for a carbon tax is higher than support for a carbon tax in California, often thought of as the most environmentally progressive U.S. state.

Percentage of Canadians, by riding, who believe their province has already been impacted by climate change. Author provided

Importantly, support for specific climate policies remains high in provinces that have already implemented climate laws. For instance, support for a carbon tax in British Columbia, where this policy was introduced in 2008, is the second highest in the country at 61 per cent (Prince Edward Island has the highest support). Similarly, support for emissions trading is second highest in Québec, again just behind P.E.I., where a carbon market was implemented in 2013.

Even Conservative ridings want action

We don’t find evidence of a backlash to carbon taxes or emissions trading — Canadians living in provinces with substantive climate policies continue to support them. Instead, we find substantial support for climate action in the ridings of Canadian politicians who have done the most to undermine Canada’s climate policy.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s provincial riding matches up with the federal riding of Etobicoke North, where 62 per cent of the public supports emissions trading. In other words, Ford ignored the majority will of his own constituents when he acted to repeal Ontario’s policy last year.

Riding-level public opinion estimates for the Saskatchewan riding of Regina-Qu’Apelle, currently represented by Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer. Author provided

The same is true federally. In Scheer’s own riding of Regina-Qu’Appelle, support for carbon taxation is at 52 per cent. Only 41 per cent of Scheer’s own constituents oppose a carbon tax. He too is offside with the people he represents.

The political risks of opposing climate reforms

Our results emphasize how the media can sometimes misinterpret electoral mandates. In Ontario, Doug Ford promised to repeal the province’s emissions trading scheme — and won. But the former Conservative leader, Patrick Brown, supported carbon pricing while enjoying a comfortable lead in the polls.

There are lots of reasons why Canadians choose to change their government, but opposition to carbon pricing hasn’t been one of them.

Climate science is clear on the need to rapidly decrease greenhouse gas emissions to avert the most disastrous consequences of climate change. As a northern country, climate impacts in Canada are already larger than in other places.

 

Our research, which the public can explore, shows that Canadians everywhere — from the most Conservative to the most Liberal ridings — are united in understanding that climate change poses a major threat to the people and places they cherish. The coming election will provide an opportunity for Canadians have a say in the future of climate policy in their country — and all Canadian politicians should take note.

Source: Canadians in every riding support climate action, new research shows

With hajj under threat, it’s time Muslims joined the climate movement

Given the dependence of Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries on oil and oil revenues, strikes me as secondary issue in relation to climate change. However, it might provide an entry point for discussions:

According to research published last week by US scientists, hajj is set to become a danger zone. As soon as next year, they say, summer days in Mecca could exceed the “extreme danger” heat-stress threshold. The news comes just weeks after over 2 million people completed their journey of a lifetime. The environmental threat to the holy pilgrimage is a panic button for British Muslims like me, signaling that the climate crisis is endangering an age-old sacred rite.

Hajj is a pillar of Islam that I’ve yet to undertake, and the physical endurance required will only become more gruelling in coming decades – scientists predict that heat and humidity levels during hajj will exceed the extreme danger threshold 20% of the time from 2045 and 2053, and 42% of the time between 2079 and 2086.

Environmental stewardship may well be advocated by my faith – the Quran states that humans are appointed as “caretakers of the Earth” and the prophet Muhammad organised the planting of trees and created conservation areas called hima – but it hasn’t mobilised Muslims on a mass scale for what the world needs now: a global eco-jihad.

Fazlun Khalid, founder of Islamic Foundation for Ecology and Environmental Sciences and author of Signs on the Earth: Islam, Modernity and the Climate Crisis, has been on a green mission for over 35 years, but his biggest challenge has been to motivate Muslims. “Islam is inherently environmental, but modernity has induced all of us to distance ourselves from nature. The reason I don’t give up is my grandchildren – what kind of planet will they inherit? How can they perform hajj under those conditions?”

Khalid previously gathered a team of scholars and academics who drafted the Islamic declaration on climate change adopted at the International Islamic climate change symposium in Istanbul in 2015 (an event co-sponsored by Islamic Relief, a global charity that is again calling on Muslims to take action now if they want to safeguard the pilgrimage for future generations). Maria Zafar of Islamic Relief UK said: “Hajj has physically demanding outdoor rituals which can become hazardous to humans. It isn’t only Mecca, other sacred sites will be at risk too, like the religious sites in Jerusalem, the Golden Temple in India – it will affect what we hold dear to our hearts. We think that climate change is distant from us, but there is no area of life that it won’t touch.”

If we are truly to tackle a catastrophe as huge as the climate crisis, we have to make it personal. Without a personal stake, it remains an abstract and we unite in perpetuating it. So if money is the only form of emotional investment for some, and if economics wields more power than the will to save our planet, we must use it. Next year Saudi Arabia is hosting the G20 summit, so let’s pressure the country to consider the financial threat due to a loss of religious tourism. Hajj is lucrative: economic experts have said revenues from hajj and umrah (a lesser pilgrimage undertaken any time of year) are set to exceed $150bn by 2022.

Source: With hajj under threat, it’s time Muslims joined the climate movement

Environmental racism grows as environmental groups turn increasingly white | New Orleans’ Multicultural News Source

An angle I hadn’t though about before – climate change reduction measures as “environmental racism” rather than focus on reducing the impacts on lower income groups. The reference to other environmental problems remains valid:

Clean drinking water. Lead paint abatement programs. Affordable energy bills. These are the day-to-day environmental justice issues that are vital to the health and financial well-being of communities – especially low-income families.

But as environmental battles rage across the country, thousands of African-American children and adults are paying a heavy price with their health as elite environmental organizations are overwhelmingly managed by white leaders who appear to ignore key issues that disproportionately impact low-income communities, where African-Americans and other people of color reside. As the diminishing African American voices for environmental justice becomes more prevalent, attention appears to be turning away from environmental hazards disparately plaguing urban areas dominated by Black people across the country such as the following

This February 2016 cover of Time magazine features a rash-covered child during the height of the Flint, Mich. water crisis.

• Cockroach allergens are detected in 85 percent of inner-city homes across the U. S. and 60 to 80 percent “of inner-city children with asthma are sensitized to cockroach based on the skin prick testing,” according to the U.S. Institute of Health.

• Approximately 11.2 percent of African-American children who live in urban areas are at risk for lead poisoning caused by lead-based paint, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

• A Center for American Progress report found that water contamination disparately “plagues low-income areas and communities of color across the nation” and that studies have “documented limited access to clean water in low-income communities of color.”

These atrocities are being shoved aside by misaligned priorities. Instead of making a meaningful impact to health and pocketbooks, some environmental organizations focus on apparent vanity projects that garner media attention and money from well-heeled donors.

Among the best examples is an issue playing out in Minnesota, where national environmental groups – including Greenpeace, 350.org and the Natural Resources Defense Council – are waging a major battle described as “resistance against the oil pipelines.” They also are running major fundraising campaigns off of pipeline protests – even though the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Administration notes that pipelines are “one of the safest and least costly ways to transport energy products.”

Meanwhile, these organizations are all but ignoring the real issues facing Minnesotans. A report indicated that the state’s urban areas have unsuitable and outdated infrastructure, allowing storm water drainage to become a crisis. Yet another report found that the Twin Cities air pollution kills nearly 2,000 people a year taking its greatest toll on those in poverty, who also disproportionately shoulder the burdens of asthma, unclean drinking water, and lead poisoning.

While the environmental groups are shoving environmental health issues aside, they also are promoting an agenda that will drive energy bills even higher for Minnesotans who are already spending far too much of their hard-earned money on energy costs. Families in Clearwater County spend 45.9 percent of their income on energy bills, while Roseau County families spend 44.5 percent – and virtually every county across the state sees energy bills eating away at more than 30 percent of income.

The story is the same across the country, as Alabama families spend nearly 50 percent of their income on energy and Michigan families spend 30 percent and above.

Some believe that these skewed priorities may be happening in part because of the lack of diversity in the environmental movement. A study by Green 2.0 recently found that the movement is only “getting more white,” as it continues to leave out people of color.

The report indicated that nearly 70 percent of the Environmental Defense Fund’s (EDF) staff was White. It also concluded that “the top 40 environmental foundations have gotten more White across full time staff, senior staff, and board members.”

Green 2.0 is pressing to deal with the racial inclusion issue in order to infuse greater sensitivity into the environmental justice movement. Whitney Tome, executive director of Green 2.0, said in a statement, “Communities of color bring to bear experience and perspective on both problems and pathways to power building. As an organization, we plan to take a more aggressive approach to calling out the environmental movement for their lack of diversity.”

She continued, “For the past five years, we’ve been working to ensure that the environmental movement and its leaders reflect the current U.S. workforce demographics.”

These racial and economic disparities are happening around the country. For example, Louisiana ranks second-worst among U.S. states when examining a wide range of environmental indicators, including water and air quality, energy use and recycling, according to a recent analysis.

While some environmental groups in the area have used their presence to fight issues that impact everyone, such as air quality or safe drinking water, other organizations, with the backing of Greenpeace, are instead focusing on anti-pipeline and anti-energy activism in the state.

The singular focus on one environmental issue while appearing to ignore others implies the presence of environmental racism, a long-used description of the practice of allowing toxics to exist in communities of color.

Meanwhile African-American led organizations are pushing environmental justice agendas, underscoring the importance of such issues in communities of color.

“Clean water is a basic human right,” National Medical Association President Niva Lubin-Johnson, wrote in a commentary posted on Seattlemedium.com last fall. “At the National Medical Association (NMA), we see firsthand how this crisis in clean water creates a variety of healthcare problems for Black patients and their families.”

Instead of seeking ways to make energy more elusive and expensive for communities of color, activist groups could use their initiative to aid in the abating of these most fundamental challenges that continue to push headwinds against many Black families and other families of color.

“This is just the beginning,” says Tome of Green 2.0. “Environmental groups are now on notice.”

Source: Environmental racism grows as environmental groups turn increasingly white | New Orleans’ Multicultural News Source