Canadians support Kyoto, poll says
Peter Calamai
OTTAWA More than two-thirds of adult Canadians including most Albertans support ratification of the Kyoto climate change protocol, a new national survey shows.

Fewer than one in five oppose Canada's ratification of the agreement to reduce greenhouse gases and the rest are undecided.

The survey also found that Canadians don't buy the argument by Alberta and some industry groups that signing the international agreement will have a disastrous effect on the national economy.

By a three-to-one margin Canadians side with the federal government's forecast that the economic impact will be "much more modest."

Even among Albertans the moderate federal view is preferred by a clear majority of those with an opinion.

"Albertans are more tepid in their support than the rest of the country but a majority still support the federal position on most of the key questions," says Frank Graves of EKOS Research Associates, which carried out the survey.

The survey results should strengthen Ottawa's hand in pending negotiations with the provinces and stakeholder groups on precisely how Canada would cut current emissions of greenhouse gases by more than 20 per cent to meet the Kyoto target by 2008.

The government is surveying views on four possible approaches.

The survey indicates that Canadians are actually out in front of their squabbling governments on the need for quick action to tackle climate change caused by human activities.

Scientists overwhelmingly agree that such climate change is already underway.

Among people who expressed an opinion, respondents agreed by a margin of nearly three to one that Canada should "move ahead with the Kyoto accord and quit wasting time debating the economic consequences."

And even the prospect of a 1 per cent drop in standard of living caused only one out of five supporters of ratification to balk.

The survey, commissioned by The Toronto Star, CBC and La Presse, is based on telephone interviews of 1,217 Canadians aged 18 or older between May 27 and 29.

Statistically, a random sample of this size will produce the same results as interviewing all adult Canadians within 2.8 percentage points 19 times out of 20.

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