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

A dose of COVID-19 vaccine is prepared at a vaccination clinic in Montreal’s Olympic Stadium on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
39 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health region

The total number of cases in the region since the pandemic began is now at 7,334

A rainbow shining on Kelowna General Hospital on May 12, 2020 International Nurses Day. (Steve Wensley - Prime Light Media)
New COVID cases trending down in Interior Health

24 new cases reported Thursday, Feb. 25, death at Kelowna General Hospital

From left: Councillor Lucy Taylor, Councillor Barry Banford, Councillor Bill Haring, Mayor Merlin Blackwell, Councillor Lynne Frizzle, Councillor Lyle Mckenzie and Councillor Shelley Sim. (District of Clearwater photo)
Council to consider raising taxes in 2021

The District of Clearwater council is considering a tax increase this year… Continue reading

A nurse performs a test on a patient at a drive-in COVID-19 clinic in Montreal, on Wednesday, October 21, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson)
30 new COVID-19 cases, five more deaths in Interior Health

This brings the total number of cases to 7,271 since testing began

FILE – A COVID-19 vaccine being prepared. (Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing)
B.C. seniors 80 years and older to get COVID vaccine details over next 2 weeks: Henry

Province is expanding vaccine workforce as officials ramp up age-based rollout

Dr. Bonnie Henry leaves the podium after talking about the next steps in B.C.’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
COVID: 589 new cases in B.C., and 7 new deaths

No new outbreaks being reported Feb. 26

Staff from the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, passersby, RCMP and Nanaimo Fire Rescue carried a sick 300-kilogram steller sea lion up the steep bluff at Invermere Beach in north Nanaimo in an attempt to save the animal’s life Thursday. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Rescue Centre)
300-kilogram sea lion muscled up from B.C. beach in rescue attempt

Animal dies despite efforts of Nanaimo marine mammal rescue team, emergency personnel and bystanders

Gina Adams as she works on her latest piece titled ‘Undying Love’. (Submitted photo)
‘Toothless’ the kitty inspires B.C. wood carver to break out the chainsaw

Inspired by plight of a toothless cat, Gina Adams offers proceeds from her artwork to help animals

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson presents bill to delay B.C.’s budget as late as April 30, and allow further spending before that, B.C. legislature, Dec. 8, 2020. (Hansard TV)
How big is B.C.’s COVID-19 deficit? We’ll find out April 20

More borrowing expected as pandemic enters second year

The first of 11 Dash 8 Q400 aircraft's have arrived in Abbotsford. Conair Group Inc. will soon transform them into firefighting airtankers. (Submitted)
Abbotsford’s Conair begins airtanker transformation

Aerial firefighting company creating Q400AT airtanker in advance of local forest fire season

The Canada Revenue Agency says there were 32 tax fraud convictions across the country between April 2019 and March 2020. (Pixabay)
Vancouver man sentenced to 29 months, fined $645K for tax evasion, forgery

Michael Sholz reportedly forged documents to support ineligible tax credits linked to homeownership

Then-Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson looks on as MLA Shirley Bond answers questions during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria. (Chad Hipolito / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
B.C. Liberal party to choose next leader in February 2022

Candidates have until Nov. 30 to declare whether they are running

After nearly 10 months of investigations, Mounties have made an arrest in the tripping of an elderly woman in Burnaby this past April. (RCMP handout)
VIDEO: Mounties charge suspect for tripping elderly woman near Metrotown in April

32-year-old Hayun Song is accused of causing bodily harm to an 84-year-old using her walker

British Columbia provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry arrives to view the Murals of Gratitude exhibition in Vancouver, on Friday, July 3, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Death threats mount against Dr. Bonnie Henry, sparking condemnation from Horgan, Dix

Henry has become a staple on televisions in homes across British Columbia since January 2020

Most Read