Energy transition is essential and workers need support: survey

Most Canadians believe the energy transition will be challenging but necessary and want solutions to support them through it, according to a new survey.

About 87 per cent of Canadians surveyed agreed that climate change is a challenge that must be addressed and 72 per cent strongly or somewhat supported shifting energy consumption from oil and gas to renewable energy.

The survey commissioned by Iron & Earth was conducted online from December 7 to 11, 2023. It surveyed 1,005 adult residents across Canada about climate change and the energy transition.

iron and earth is a nonprofit organization led by oilpatch workers that provides workers with skills and opportunities to transition to more climate-friendly lines of work. The organization previously commissioned a 2021 Abacus Data survey that indicated the majority of Canadians working in the fossil fuel industry were concerned about being left behind and were interested in shifting to jobs in the net zero economy.

“This is something very pressing and on people’s minds,” said Luisa Da Silva, executive director of Iron & Earth, in an interview with Canadian National Observer.

These findings “greatly support the work we do” and allow Iron & Earth (and other organizations) to go back to governments and illustrate that people want to get involved in the energy transition, Da Silva said. Governments “need to support this [and] creating an environment where it is easy for someone to make that change,” he said.

“An important area in which we can work a lot is [36 per cent] “There are many Canadians who are not very aware or are not aware at all that the transition is already underway,” Da Silva said. It’s important to ensure people are aware of climate change and government programs that help address both climate change and affordability, such as housing retrofits, for example, he said.

The survey showed that nearly four in 10 workers are worried about losing their jobs if they do not receive professional training or support.

“We need all of our political leaders, regardless of their political affiliation, to get on board with Bill C-50 and put the future of Canadians first,” Da Silva said.

“We need all of our political leaders, regardless of their political affiliation, to get on board with Bill C-50 and put the future of Canadians first,” said Luisa Da Silva, executive director of Iron & Earth. #EnergyTransition

The Sustainable Jobs Act (Bill C-50) was delayed at committee stage due to interventions by Conservative MPs and still needs to be read a third time and debated in the House of Commons before being sent to the Senate.

Of federal Conservative voters, 63 per cent agree that Canada is experiencing the impacts of climate change and 53 per cent support shifting from oil and gas to clean, renewable energy, according to the poll. Support for the energy transition was even higher among Canadians who intended to vote for the federal Liberals, NDP and Greens, ranging between 84 and 90 per cent.

Natasha Bulowski / Local Journalism Initiative / Canada’s National Observer

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