Albertans are fond of nature. In fact, we are among the most passionate about nature in Canada!

But if you’re going to be part of the environmental movement in Alberta, you probably enjoy a challenge. That’s because the obstacles, between where we are and where we want to be are higher than the Rocky Mountains.

I like a challenge, and maybe that’s why I’ve been involved in the environmental movement in Alberta for more than thirty years. That said, I’ve never taken on a challenge like the one ahead in Alberta, and across Canada.

In Alberta, the future of our country’s effort to cut our greenhouse gas emissions is on the line. Alberta is responsible for 1/3rd of Canada’s polluting emissions. The Alberta government is also the single most prominent opponent of climate action. There are powerful political and corporate interests that want nothing to do with a clean energy and economic transition – necessary steps in our journey to NetZero – and who don’t hesitate to gaslight, mislead and outright lie to protect themselves and their profits.

“Close-up aerial photo of an oil refinery in the Alberta Oilsands, near Fort McMurray.”

At Environmental Defence, we’re up to the challenge. And we have a plan.

The first part of our plan is to understand what Albertans want, and what motivates them when it comes to climate change solutions. To find this out we’ve done a detailed analysis of half a dozen public opinion surveys conducted in the last two years. What we’ve learned is both surprising and reassuring.


Survey Says

  • Albertans are conflicted, and inconsistent in their opinions regarding an energy transition. A whopping 82 per cent support the active role of the government in planning for future opportunities for all workers. 70 per cent believe the Alberta economy is too dependent on oil and gas. But, when asked if they think that global demand for oil and gas will start to decline in the next 15 years, they are evenly split 48/48 per cent. (Note: According to the International Energy Association, global growth in demand will be cut in half to 1 per cent in 2024-26, and to just .5 per cent  by 2028, after which oil demand is projected to peak and then decline.)
  • When asked if they support the federal goal of reaching NetZero carbon emissions by 2050, 65 per cent are supportive. However, 81 per cent of Albertans believe that technology – the definition of which is left vague – is the solution, and a contradictory 59 per cent support the Alberta government’s stance to push back on the federal NetZero targets. I’m struggling to square that circle.
  • Only 50 per cent  of Albertans believe that renewable power is reliable, and just 30 per cent  of Albertans believe the economy would thrive without oil and gas. When asked about the recent moratorium on renewable power projects, 50 per cent believed that the GOA was hurting jobs and the economy, and 47 per cent  that the moratorium was “a good thing.”
  • Maybe most tellingly, there is a “false reality” present among Albertans that has been daylighted by the work of Prof.Jared Wesley and the Common Ground project. Dr. Wesley notes an almost 20-point gap where nearly half of Alberta  residents support an energy transition, but when asked how others might feel, believe less than 30 per cent do. That gap between perception and reality drives much of the narrative in Alberta’s media and political debate over climate and energy in the province.
The Summerview wind farm north of Pincher Creek, Alberta with renewable energy wind turbines
Near Pincher Creek, Alberta

These surveys call attention to critical insights about Albertan’s attitude towards climate change and energy transition. Albertans see “talk of an energy transition virtually synonymous with economic transition.” The main resistance to such a transformation of Alberta’s energy system is that timelines (too fast) and technology (little faith in renewable energy reliability) make it unrealistic.

Growing Support for Alberta’s Energy Transition

My role is to spotlight the path forward for an Alberta energy transition. A global energy shift is occurring, and Alberta risks its future prosperity if it waits to embrace that shift. I don’t want to see that happen. Nor do I want Alberta to suffer from the devastating impacts of climate change – floods, fire, and drought – while we overlook our role in Canada’s effort to tackle the dire global challenge of climate change.

Over the next few months, you can expect the Alberta team to share additional insight into what is really happening with the energy transition in this province, and how you can also put your shoulder to the challenge of creating the conditions for an energy shift in Canada’s most prosperous province. We can do this, but we’ll have to work together. I hope you will join me – for our future.


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