ACEE has conducted two major polls of Albertans:

  1. Environmental Behaviour and Alberta Youth: April 2010
  2. Polling of Adults: January 2009

Environmental Behaviour and Alberta Youth:  April 2010


Thanks to ConocoPhillips Canada and the Alberta Beverage Container Recycling Corporation for their support of this polling project!

Polling of 801 Albertan Adults:  January 2009


Media from our 8 May press conference:


Background on the polling project

ACEE engaged pollster Ipsos Reid to conduct poll of Albertan adults, and convened a multi-stakeholder committee to help advise this project.  801 Albertans were polled in late January 2009.  Our research asked key questions about Albertans’ environmental literacy, their stewardship actions, and their receptivity to market-based instruments to protect the environment – since many drivers of environmental behaviours are financial.

Some of our committee, at our 14 July workshop.

From left to right: Sheela Das, Ipsos Reid; Trina Innes, Alberta Environment; Lorraine Lastiwka, Alberta Education; Ed Whittingham, Pembina Institute; Kevin Strange, Calgary Zoo; Neil Mcinnis, Parks Canada; Ian Waugh, Alberta Tourism, Parks and Recreation; Stuart Peters, Alberta Ecotrust; Sarah Hipkin, Land Stewardship Centre of Canada.


What we already know With the help of our committee, Ipsos Reid pulled together a summary of publicly available polling data. Some of the key points are listed below.

  • Support for environmental education in Alberta is VERY high!
  • 94% of Albertans think that K-12 public schools should teach their students about protecting the environment.
  • However, only 38% are aware of schools in their community that require their students to learn about protecting the environment.
  • 95% of Albertans think that K-12 public schools should be involved in community environmental action projects such as recycling, bike-to-school days and community gardens.
  • 98% of Albertans consider including the issue of the environment in the curriculum to be either 'desirable' or 'highly important.'
  • Of these, two thirds of respondents believe environment should be linked with all other subjects at school; one third feel it should be a subject by itself
  • There is an appetite – and need – among the public for more information (in Alberta, education on climate change in particular)

What do we think about the environment?

  • 70% of Canadians believe the state of the environment is getting worse
  • Pragmatism, not altruism, will guide attitudes and behaviours towards the environment.
  • Relative to the rest of the country, Albertans score lower in this area – less concerned about the environment, less willing to act
  • That said, 84% of Albertans are concerned about climate change

Our willingness to help the environment

  • Almost 80% of Canadians claim they are personally prepared to make significant lifestyle changes in order to stop climate change
  • Perceived major barriers to more sustainable behaviour include: lack of government leadership; feeling unable to solve problems alone and the need to know more about solutions. A sense of collective action is fundamentally important.

Who do we think is responsible to take action?

  • Government and businesses are perceived as the best placed to lead the agenda.
  • Support for government interventions depends on the nature of the intervention. Some fiscal measures are contentious while others are widely supported (e.g., high support for phasing out incandescent light bulbs).
  • 90% of Albertans think they are doing a good job of protecting the environment (but it turns out that their understanding of how to do a good job is low)

Some implications

  • Education about solutions and positive examples is more important than ever
  • Changing behaviour is complex, and environmental behaviours are very different from one another.
  • While there is a growing number of people who will act on principle/belief as it relates to energy and/or conservation, most continue to have a practical personal (economic) interest underpinning their potential behaviour. And within this, immediacy of benefit still tends to rule the day.
  • As people are asked to do more by government, business and others, there is an increasing tendency to ‘trade off’ the demands that are being placed on them.
  • Who delivers any energy and/or conservation messaging often impacts on receptivity to the messages themselves. Many people tune-out if they don’t associate immediate credibility with the messenger.

Our 'Terms of Reference' ACEE and its committee set the following goals for this research:

  1. Assess Albertans needs vis-à-vis environmental education, so that stakeholders may better design their programs.
  2. Create a ‘case’ by asking Albertans about their support for different elements of environmental education
  3. Better understand Albertan’s perceptions of, and support for, market-based instruments and incentives to help the environment – since the polling shows that many drivers of environmental behaviours are financial
  4. Discuss the implications of our research, and generate recommendations for EE stakeholders.

Thanks to our advisory committee!

The following individuals and organizations sat on the advisory committee for this project:

Preston Manning, Manning Centre for Building Democracy

David Thompson, Sustainable Prosperity

Trina Innes, Alberta Environment

Ian Waugh, Alberta Tourism Parks and Recreation

Sarah Hipkin, Land Stewardship Centre of Canada

Brent Andressen, Alberta Agriculture

Vonn Bricker, Alberta Sustainable Resource Development

Stuart Peters, Alberta Ecotrust Foundation

Rob Macintosh, Green Planet Communications and ACEE Board member

Dr. Loleen Berdahl and Rob Roach, Canada West Foundation

Barb Simic, ConocoPhillips Canada

Kevin Strange, Education and Outreach, Calgary

Zoo Neil Mcinnis, Social Science Specialist, Education and Communication, Parks Canada

Lorraine Lastiwka, Alberta Education

Ed Whittingham, Pembina Institute

Dr. Gwen Blue, University of Calgary

Danielle Droitsch, Water Matters

Dr. Susan Barker, University of Alberta

Cliff Lacey, Alberta Recreation and Parks Association