Dec. 6, 2002. 05:50 AM
Ottawa's Draft plan on climate change (PDF)  
Kyoto - What does it mean? (Nov. 9)  
Provinces in 12-point consensus (Oct. 29)  
Kyoto draft too soft on industry: Experts (Oct. 18)  
How will Kyoto change our lives? (Sept. 29)  
Editorial: Undermining Kyoto (Sept. 29)  
UN: Convention and Kyoto Accord  
Environment Canada: Climate change  
David Suzuki Foundation reports  
Most still support ratifying Kyoto pact
National backing for climate accord down since May


OTTAWA—The Chrétien government's handling of the Kyoto action plan has likely lit the fuse on a potential explosion of Western alienation.

But a clear majority of Canadians still support ratifying the Kyoto Protocol as MPs prepare to vote on the issue Monday.

A telephone survey this week by EKOS Research Associates, done for the Toronto Star, CBC and La Presse, found support for ratification has slipped to 62 per cent across Canada since May but plummeted below 40 per cent in Alberta, the only province with a majority opposed.

"This could be a harbinger of another round of Western alienation comparable to what happened under the National Energy Program. That depends on how the implementation is handled," said EKOS President Frank Graves.

Graves said the drop of 12 percentage points in national support for Kyoto — from 74 per cent in May to 62 per cent this week — was deceptive, because only half of the drop was a shift from support to opposition. The other half had become undecided.

The survey showed an even larger drop in Kyoto support in B.C. from 78 per cent in May to 49 per cent now, but Graves said that result wasn't reliable because of the small sample in that province. A much larger Kyoto survey for the federal government over several months indicates B.C. support is closer to the national trend, he said.

The drop in support among Albertans, from 53 per cent to 38 per cent, also came from a very small sample but was confirmed by the larger survey, Graves said.

Support in Ontario mirrored the national picture, dropping from 76 per cent in May to 64 per cent now. Three-quarters of Quebecers support Kyoto, unchanged from May, while Atlantic Canada dipped slightly from 76 per cent to 68 per cent.

Between Monday and Wednesday, the EKOS pollsters asked 678 Canadians about their support for Kyoto. Statistically, a sample this size will produce the same results as asking the entire population within 3.8 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. The smaller Ontario sample, however, has a margin of error of plus or minus 6 percentage points and the margin of error is higher for all other regional results.

The survey also found Kyoto supporters say they're willing to give up some of the good life for the sake of tackling the global climate changes triggered by rising greenhouse gas levels in the Earth's atmosphere.

Faced with the prospect of a 1 per cent drop in their standard of living, 9 out of 10 supporters continued to favour Kyoto ratification. Even in the unlikely event of a standard-of-living drop of 5 per cent, 8 out of 10 stayed the course. These proportions have not changed significantly since May.

Graves speculated that Albertans turned away from Kyoto because they trust Premier Ralph Klein and his anti-Kyoto pronouncements or because lurking Western frustration has been aroused by a threat to the province's petroleum industry.

"They've been reminded that this could be the East screwing you again," he said.

More than 6 out of 10 Canadians surveyed say Kyoto will have a positive impact on urban air quality, in effect rejecting arguments from critics that the plan has little or no health benefits. Two-thirds say Kyoto will be positive for the environment.

But one-third say they are concerned implementing the action plan might harm jobs in their province, while only one-fifth say the job impact will be positive. Another third say there will be no job impact and the rest don't know.

The EKOS results match closely a survey last month from Environics International, which found that 6 in 10 Canadians continued to support Kyoto although support had fallen 11 percentage points since May.

The two surveys reached similar results despite different approaches. EKOS asks people about support only if they claim to have heard or read of Kyoto. Environics asks everyone after noting that the U.S. is not ratifying the agreement out of economic concerns.

Additional articles by Peter Calamai

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