More than half of Albertans want the province to adopt stronger climate change policies, even if that means oilsands producers are faced with higher costs, a new poll suggests.

Half of Albertans — 50 per cent — said they would support an economy-wide carbon tax, with 38 per cent opposed, according to the survey conducted by EKOS Research Associates and commissioned by the Alberta-based Pembina Institute.

It suggests 56 per cent of Albertans think the province has an obligation to cut emissions to address climate change.

Just over half of the respondents said they want the province to adopt stronger climate change policies, even if it means oilsands producers have to pay more to produce oil.

Two-thirds said the government should prioritize diversifying the province's economy, while only 29 per cent said it should focus on helping the oil and gas industry be more competitive.

Renewable energy investment supported

And 48 per cent of Albertans think the oilsands industry is large enough or should even be reduced, the poll suggests.

The poll suggests 70 per cent of Albertans support investment in renewable energy sources to reduce the province's reliance on coal-fired electricity, said Pembina spokesperson Simon Dyer.

"There's a constituency, a small minority of Albertans, that aren't interested in climate change or environmental protection," said Dyer.

"But the vast majority of Albertans I think are supportive of climate leadership, which is obviously very positive to see."

The poll's findings are surprising given that it was conducted at a time when Albertans are very aware how drastically low oil prices have impacted the provincial economy, Dyer said.

The poll surveyed 1,855 Albertans between Aug. 28 and Sept.10 using telephone interviews as well as an online participants, both randomly selected.

The margin of error is plus or minus 2.3 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

The Pembina Institute bills itself as a research and analysis organization that makes recommendations for "reducing the harmful impacts of fossil fuels while supporting the transition to an energy system that is clean, safe and sustains a high quality of life," its website says. 

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