Not Much of a Generational Gap on Energy and Environment, Studies Show
Check out this story from Metro on different generational attitudes toward energy and environmental issues – the subject of an intergenerational dialogue in Vancouver Tuesday night. (Dec. 8, 2012)
Stereotypes and many a bitter blogger suggest Baby Boomers are to blame, or thank, for supporting the rapid expansion of Canada’s oil and gas sector.
But polls suggest Boomers’ views are surprisingly close to those of their Generation Y offspring — and the vast majority of Canadians want to see a transition away from fossil fuels to a clean energy economy.
Marc Lee, a senior economist with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, is speaking about the issue Tuesday in Vancouver at Bring Your Boomers, a series designed to foster intergenerational dialogue. The theme of the panel discussion is power and energy.
“The overarching problem is that no generation is really having influence on the political system relative to the concern that exists,” Lee said in a phone interview Friday.
“Every generation wants action on these issues, but we have a breakdown in our political system because our politicians are not acting on those concerns.”
A Harris/Decima poll commissioned by Tides Canada this summer found there was almost no difference between the generations in their sense of urgency about exporting more of Canada’s oil and natural gas.
Asked to rate it as a top, high, medium, low or non-priority, 33 per cent of people across the country rated it as high or top priority. Responses hardly varied among age groups, however seniors’ support was slightly higher at 39 per cent.
The biggest differences were revealed when pollsters asked how much of a priority should be placed on reducing carbon pollution and our reliance on fossil fuels like oil, gas and coal.
On the question of reducing carbon pollution, the percentage of Generation Y respondents that answered high or top-priority was 74 per cent, Generation X averaged 61 per cent and Boomers 65 per cent. However, given the sample size of 1005 respondents, the variations lie within the margin or error and could be statistically insignificant.
When asked to rate the importance of reducing Canada’s reliance on fossil fuels, 75 per cent of Generation Y respondents aged 18 to 34 called it a high or top priority, compared to 65 per cent of Boomers ages 45 and up, and 61 per cent of Generation X, ages 35 to 44.
Merran Smith, director of Clean Energy Canada at Tides Canada, said support was uniform across age demographics and consistently higher than two-thirds for using a portion of the country’s oil wealth to invest in and create more jobs in renewable energy, as well as improving energy efficiency.
“The gap’s not that big,” she said. “You could definitely say all generations are widely in support of transitioning our economy…. But younger generations are definitely more concerned about carbon pollution and Canada taking a role to reduce our carbon footprint.”