Canadians On Energy Conservation: Ipsos Reid

Municipal Governments Get Failing Grades On Energy Conservation.But Does It Even Matter?

August 5, 2008 – Vancouver, BC – Ipsos Reid, in partnership with Municipal World magazine, conducted a survey on Canadians’ attitudes towards the energy conservation efforts and responsibilities of the different levels of government (federal, provincial, and municipal). The findings of this research, featured in the August 2008 issue of Municipal World, reveal that few Canadians believe their municipal government is doing a good job when it comes to energy conservation. Only three-in-ten (30%) say their municipal/local government is doing a good job promoting energy conservation among citizens, compared to half (51%) saying their municipal government is doing a poor job in this regard.

Similarly, only 28% believe their municipal/local government is doing a good job in its own energy conservation efforts, while 42% provide a poor rating. Further, in both instances, relatively large percentages are unsure how to rate their municipal government’s performance, pointing to a general lack of familiarity with municipal energy conservation efforts.

While municipalities may score poorly when it comes to energy conservation, the survey also shows that very few Canadians see energy conservation as primarily a municipal
responsibility. Specifically, only 11% of Canadians believe their municipal/local government should be most responsible for promoting energy conservation among citizens. Rather, this responsibility is seen as lying primarily with the federal (57%) and, to a lesser extent, provincial (26%) government. In this context, one might argue that municipal governments’ poor performance ratings need not be
a cause for concern as the public has relatively low expectations for them in this regard.

Further, municipal governments are not alone in their poor performance ratings regarding energy conservation efforts. In fact, Canadians see all three levels of government as performing poorly in this area. For example, half (49%) say the federal government is doing a poor job when it comes to promoting energy conservation among citizens and 43% feel this way about their
provincial government’s performance. These results are only slightly better than the 51% saying their municipal/local government is doing a poor job in this regard. Similarly, 43% of Canadians rate the federal government’s energy conservation efforts poorly and 39% feel this way about their provincial government, both of which are not significantly different from what is reported for municipal/local governments (42% poor job). Clearly, Canadians see all three levels of government needing improvement when it comes to energy conservation. However, in the eyes of the public, this is probably a greater
concern for the federal and provincial governments which are most likely to be seen as responsible for these types of initiatives.

Given the public’s low expectations for municipal governments when it comes to energy conservation, some may be tempted to ask why they should even bother with energy conservation initiatives in the first place. The survey points to two good reasons why municipal governments may want to make these a priority despite low public expectations. First, there is an opportunity to
‘delight’ citizens by showing leadership in an area that many feel is lacking in government today. Second, energy conservation is important to Canadians, with 69% rating energy conservation as “extremely” (24%) or “very” (45%) important. Another 28% say this is “somewhat important” to them. Clearly, this is an issue that resonates with the public – and for that reason is worth paying attention to.

These are the findings of an Ipsos Reid poll conducted for Municipal World magazine and fielded between April 17 and 22, 2008 among a sample of 1,003 adult Canadians randomly selected from the Ipsos Reid Internet Household Panel. Results based on a sample size of 1,003 are considered accurate to within �3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, of what they would have been had the entire adult Canadian population been polled. The data has been statistically weighted to ensure the composition of the sample by region, age, and gender reflects that of the actual Canadian population according to the 2006 Census data.

Municipal World is the oldest continuously published monthly municipal magazine in the world. Founded in 1891, the magazine is devoted to promoting effective municipal government
across Canada. For more information about Municipal World, please see:

About Ipsos Reid

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