University of Calgary

Canadian business, policy leaders lack energy knowledge, poll says

UToday HomeFebruary 28, 2013

A survey conducted by the School of Public Policy at the University of Calgary revealed that individuals charged with making key decisions affecting the nation's economy know as much about the energy sector as the general public.

The survey, released Wednesday, was designed to gauge the energy literacy of Canada's business and policy leaders.

The authors — professor Michal Moore, associate professor André Turcotte, and researchers Jennifer Winter and Bernard Walp — argue that the findings should be cause for concern and future education efforts should target the significant knowledge gaps identified in their report.

"Anyone presuming that leaders in business and policy have a firm understanding of how Canadians get their energy might be startled to discover that, in Ontario, Alberta, the Atlantic region and Saskatchewan, a substantial fraction of these ‘elite’ survey respondents incorrectly identify the primary resource used for energy in their province," the authors write.

Only 38 per cent of respondents in Ontario correctly identified nuclear energy as the primary source of electricity in the province; 38 per cent of Alberta respondents correctly identified coal as the primary source. Meanwhile, 100 per cent of Quebec respondents identified hydro as the primary source.

These numbers roughly match those of a previous survey of the general public that the authors conducted in the fall of 2012.

Another surprising finding from the survey of business and policy leaders was that an overwhelming majority (89 per cent) of respondents considered it important, or at least somewhat important, to decrease Canada's reliance on the U.S. market for our exports, but 56 per cent of those surveyed also advocated for more Canadian energy independence, even if it meant reduced revenue for the Canadian economy.

"In a country where energy is our number one export, it behooves business and policy leaders to know more, to seek more information. We should be living and breathing this stuff," Moore said.

A total of 589 individuals were interviewed as part of their survey of "elites": 348 business leaders and 241 policy leaders, across all provinces and territories.


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