A man wearing shorts uses trekking poles as he walks through the snow at Burnaby Mountain Park in Burnaby, B.C., on Sunday, Jan. 24, 2021. Canadians are “Angry Birds” when it comes to climate action, indicates a survey the United Nations calls the largest ever taken on the issue. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

A man wearing shorts uses trekking poles as he walks through the snow at Burnaby Mountain Park in Burnaby, B.C., on Sunday, Jan. 24, 2021. Canadians are “Angry Birds” when it comes to climate action, indicates a survey the United Nations calls the largest ever taken on the issue. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

UN survey uses Angry Birds to reveal Canadian, global opinions on climate policies

As people played the games, a questionnaire would pop up instead of an ad

Canadians are “Angry Birds” when it comes to climate change, shows a survey the United Nations calls the largest ever taken on the issue.

The mammoth survey, which drew respondents through the use of popular online games, ranked Canada seventh out of 50 countries in its perception of how important the problem is — and tops in the gap between men and women on the issue.

“Canada was at the top end of the group of countries we surveyed in terms of the recognition of the climate emergency,” said Steve Fisher, an Oxford University sociologist who helped run the survey on behalf of the United Nations Development Program.

The novel survey found respondents through games such as Angry Birds and Dragon City. As people played the games, a questionnaire would pop up instead of an ad.

Project director Cassie Flynn, who is with the UN program, said the idea came to her while riding the subway in New York.

“Every single person was on their phone,” she said. “I started looking over people’s shoulders and the huge majority was playing games. I thought, ‘How do we tap into that?’”

Two years, 1.2 million responses (in 17 languages) and a great deal of innovative statistical thinking later came the People’s Climate Vote. It is an attempt, said Flynn, to gauge the public’s sense of urgency on climate change and how people feel about different policies.

“The decisions (on climate) are going to affect every single person on the planet. What we wanted to do is to bring public opinion into that policy-making.”

As the federal Liberal government advances on its ambitious climate program, it seems Canadians are more concerned about the issue than most.

Three-quarters of those surveyed agreed that climate change is an emergency compared with the global average of 64 per cent.

That belief topped out at 83 per cent for respondents under 18. But, at 72 per cent, it wasn’t much weaker among those over 60.

The survey also found that Canadians who believed climate change is an emergency believed it strongly. Three-quarters said action should be urgent and on many fronts.

They really liked solutions based in conservation. Support for nature-based climate policies was higher in Canada at 79 per cent than in any other countries with high carbon emissions from land use.

They also wanted polluters to pay. Some 69 per cent favoured policies that regulate company behaviour. Only the United Kingdom, at 72 per cent, registered stronger among high-income countries.

And, at 81 and 80 per cent respectively, respondents in the U.K. and Canada were virtually tied at the top in support of ocean and waterway protection.

Canada also had the largest gap between men and women in their assessment of the importance of climate change. Canadian women and girls surveyed were 12 per cent more likely to rate it an emergency than men and boys. Globally, there wasn’t much difference.

Fisher, who researches political attitudes and behaviour, said climate change is a more partisan issue in Canada, the United States and Australia than elsewhere on the globe.

“It is related to partisanship in those countries,” he said. “Women are much more likely to vote for the more climate-conscious left parties.”

Fisher said the use of cellphone games gave researchers access to groups that are hard for pollsters to reach, such as young people.

“It was kind of new to do the fieldwork in this way,” he said. “It reached an awful lot of people.”

Each respondent was asked to complete the survey only once. The team used 4,000 different games, some popular with children, some with older people.

Still, the sample skewed young. The statisticians had to adjust the sample to ensure all groups were given appropriate weight.

The survey is considered accurate to within two percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

ALSO READ: B.C. scientists look at climate change impacts on aquaculture production

Bob Weber, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Climate changeUnited Nations

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Displays and programming have continued at the Vernon Public Art Gallery despite pandemic restrictions. (Lianne Viau file photo)
Support keeps Vernon art groups’ lights on

Despite pandemic restrictions, art gallery and others sustaining the storm

The District of Lake Country saw its number of overdose calls double in 2020 over the previous year. (Black Press file photo)
Overdose calls doubled in Lake Country in 2020: report

The district’s protective services annual report shows there were 47 overdose calls last year

Interior Health reported 33 new COVID-19 cases on March 5. (Black Press Files)
Interior Health reports 33 new COVID-19 cases on March 5

Over 300,000 vaccine doses have been administered provincewide.

Vernon husband and wife Jan (top) and Ken Waldon (with B.C. Lt.-Gov. Janet Austin), were among 44 provincial recipients of the Governor General’s Sovereign’s Medal for volunteerism. The awards were presented at a special ceremony earlier in September in Victoria. (Government House Victoria photos)
Fintry heritage site champion loses battle with illness

Ken Waldon was the leading proponent behind the creation of Friends of the Fintry Provincial Park Society

An application to construct housing units for temporary farm workers was supported by District of Lake Country council Tuesday, March 2, 2021. The applicant, Gurjinder Sandher, must now get approval from the Agricultural Land Commission. (Google Maps)
Lake Country supports farmer’s bid to build housing for temporary workers

The application to construct 40 permanent units on farmland is now pending ALC approval

The James C Richardson Pipe Band marches in a Remembrance Day parade on Nov. 11, 2019 in Chilliwack. Wednesday, March 10 is International Bagpipe Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of March 7 to 13

International Bagpipe Day, Wash Your Nose Day and Kidney Day are all coming up this week

C.E. “Ned” Bentley owned a garage on Shaughnessy Avenue, now Lakeshore Drive in Summerland. Bentley later went on to serve on Summerland’s council and was recognized with the Good Citizen Award in 1939. (Summerland Museum photo)
Former Summerland reeve once ran garage

C.E. “Ned” Bentley was a prominent figure in Summerland’s past.

Kevin Haughton is the founder/technologist of Courtenay-based Clearflo Solutions. Scott Stanfield photo
Islander aims Clearflo clean drinking water system at Canada’s remote communities

Entrepreneur $300,000 mobile system can produce 50,000 litres of water in a day, via solar energy

Malawian police guard AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines after the shipment arrived in Lilongwe, Malawi, Friday March 5, 2021. Canada is expecting its first shipments of AstraZeneca vaccine next week. (Associated Press/Thoko Chikondi)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 cases climb to 634 Friday, four more deaths

Currently 255 people in hospital, 66 in intensive care

A crashed helicopter is seen near Mt. Gardner on Bowen Island on Friday March 5, 2021. Two people were taken to hospital in serious but stable condition after the crash. (Irene Paulus/contributed)
2 people in serious condition after helicopter goes down on Bowen Island

Unclear how many passengers aboard and unclear where the helicopter was going

Surrey Pretrial in Newton. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)
B.C. transgender inmate to get human rights hearing after being held in mostly male jail

B.C. Human Rights Tribunal member Amber Prince on March 3 dismissed the pretrial’s application to have Makayla Sandve’s complaint dismissed

Supporters rally outside court as Pastor James Coates of GraceLife Church is in court to appeal bail conditions, after he was arrested for holding day services in violation of COVID-19 rules, in Edmonton, Alta., on Thursday March 4, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
‘Law remains valid:’ Pastor accused of violating health orders to remain in jail

The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms is representing the pastor

The Princeton Traditional Music Festival, normally held in August, was denied a grant due to COVID. (File photo)
COVID makes some of the 2021 grant decisions for Princeton council

Municipality doles out funds while striving to meet policy

Most Read