Consumerism causes climate change: poll

Most Canadians believe that consumerism and a push for economic growth are factors behind climate change, a poll indicates.

A majority of Canadians believe that consumerism and a push for economic growth are factors responsible for climate change, suggests a poll released Thursday.

The survey, conducted by Environics Research for eight advocacy organizations and unions, found that 80 per cent of those questioned feel the climate is being negatively influenced by economic and social priorities.

The poll comes just over a week before the start of the United Nations Climate Change Conference to be held in Cancun, Mexico, from Nov. 29 to Dec. 10. It also follows this week's vote by Conservative senators to defeat Bill C-311, a climate change measure passed by the Commons that would have required the government to establish five-year plans to meet greenhouse gas emission targets.

Seventy per cent of those polled said military spending should be redirected toward reducing emissions of greenhouse gases. And 80 per cent said the federal government should create "green" jobs — employment for workers no longer engaged in mining fossil fuels.

The survey also indicated 77 per cent of Canadians believe a tribunal should be established to penalize countries whose economic actions damage or threaten the environment.

"These polling results indicate willingness on the part of Canadians for significant change in how we understand and respond to the climate crisis," stated Rick Arnold, co-ordinator for Common Frontiers Canada, a group opposing North American economic integration that co-sponsored the poll.

Other organizations involved in commissioning the survey were the Council of Canadians; Kairos, an ecumenical group that last year had its federal funding reduced; the Canadian Union of Postal Workers; the Public Service Alliance of Canada; the Indigenous Environmental Network; Common Frontiers; and Toronto Bolivia Solidarity.

The telephone poll of 1,000 Canadians, conducted between Oct. 27 and Nov. 1, claims a margin of error of 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.