You’ll often hear that we’re over the hump on climate denial. Beyond the comment sections of the Internet, that’s broadly true for old-school, outright denial that climate change is happening at all. But a more insidious variant has taken root and it explains a good deal of the carbon ruckus in our politics — Conservative voters aren’t convinced humans are causing it.

You’ll recall that surreal moment in 2021 when delegates rejected adding “climate change is real” to the Conservative Party of Canada’s policy book. You might chalk that up to the nature of party conventions — in any party, they attract a disproportionate number of, let’s just say, “enthusiasts.”

But the political divide between Conservatives and other Canadians reaches far beyond the parties’ button-collecting bases. It’s not so much a divide as a chasm.

Around 90 per cent of Canadians who say they intend to vote Liberal or NDP tell pollsters that "climate change is a fact and is mostly caused by human activities," according to a survey by the Angus Reid Institute conducted in March.

By contrast, only one-third of federal Conservative voters accept this foundational climate fact.

And you’ll note the generous space for wiggle room — respondents merely had to acknowledge that climate change is “mostly” caused by nebulous “human activities.” No pointing the finger at fossil fuels, no need to side with the world’s scientists that human causation is “unequivocal,” with effects that are “irreversible for centuries to millennia.”

Conservative voters are a very long way from “unequivocal” — in the same survey, fully half said climate change is “mostly caused by natural changes and cycles.”

The political chasm is even more striking when it comes to climate impacts. Re.Climate just published its annual review of public opinion, What do Canadians really think about climate change? (disclosure: I am one of the authors) and found that “Canadians who voted Conservative in the last federal election express very different beliefs about climate impacts than those who voted for other parties, such as whether wildfires are linked to climate change.”

Only one-quarter of Conservative voters thought last summer’s forest fires were directly linked to climate change.

It's hard to believe, but most Conservative voters still don't believe humans cause climate change. #CPC #ClimateChange #cdnpoli

If you’re managing to hold the position that climate change isn’t driving extreme events or that humans aren’t causing it anyway, it’s not surprising if you don’t support action against carbon pollution.

And that’s exactly where most Conservative voters are at — barely one-third say that “climate change is a crisis and we need to act quickly.”

I suppose there’s some solace in the fact that one-third of self-declared Conservative voters are willing to buck the tide. But the raw numbers lead to a sneaking suspicion that a federal Conservative government would wield its axe well beyond the carbon tax.

“Why try to reduce carbon emissions if carbon emissions aren't a problem?” asked Philippe Fournier (rhetorically) after reviewing the latest polls. “One could re-frame Conservatives' opposition to carbon pricing as not just a cost of living issue, but also as distrust of climate science,” wrote the editor-in-chief of 338Canada. “If you don’t believe global warming is a man-made phenomenon, why even try to curb carbon emissions?”

Pierre Poilievre has been careful to ground his carbon tax attack on issues of affordability and effectiveness, not explicitly against climate action per se. But he’s certainly not trying to lead his base into alignment with the scientific consensus. Poilievre has accused the government of “exploiting” last summer’s forest fires and even heckled Liberal MP Karina Gould in the House of Commons, shouting that the wildfires in Alberta were “started by your government.”

And if Poilievre does ever intend to produce a climate platform without carbon pricing, he’s left himself few options. He could support new low-carbon energy but he’s crapped on most options to cut existing climate pollution: deriding EVs, supporting gas furnaces, conflating federal clean fuel and clean electricity regulations as additional carbon taxes and opposing the proposed cap on pollution from the oil and gas sector.

Instead of an emissions cap, Poilievre promises boom times for the oil and gas sector. “We’re going to clear the way for pipelines,” he promises. “Pipelines south, north, east, west.”

Writing about Poilievre’s attempt to force a “carbon tax election” in March, a group of 28 environment, legal and labour organizations warned, “It is clear to us that the debates and votes … are part of a concerted effort to dismantle more than just carbon pricing: they are part of an ideologically driven effort to limit all climate action.”

That effort has enlisted some notable supporters. While Poilievre positions himself on the side of working-class Canadians against “corporate lobbyists,” the corporates don’t seem to have taken it personally.

You can’t have missed the ads from the Pathways Alliance of oilsands companies claiming to be “on the road to net-zero.” Turns out, that road leads to the same intersection as Poilievre’s south-north-east-west pipelines. This week, DeSmog revealed the alliance’s co-founder, Alex Pourbaix, made a personal donation after the executive chairman of Cenovus attended a private “evening with Pierre Poilievre” fundraiser last year.

He wasn’t alone. Two dozen fossil fuel executives and investors attended that single event, and the donors included the former CEO of Suncor and the outgoing president of Canadian Natural Resources.

Chris Hatch writes Canada's National Observer's celebrated Sunday newsletter, Zero Carbon. Chris is the former executive director of Rainforest Action Network as well as the former executive editor at Canada's National Observer. He is now a columnist at National Observer and writes the acclaimed Sunday newsletter, Zero Carbon.

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Climate change is real and we've been kicking this can down the road for years in the name of economics and affordability. It's because of this we're not further ahead in renewable, sustainable and more economic energy. Poilievre will use the economy to further kick the can down the road so he can be seen as "putting more money in your pocket" neglecting the fact that at some point, it doesn't matter how much money you have in your pocket if you can't breathe clean air, drink clean water, suffer through extremely hot summers, increased flooding, forest fires that burn longer than ever before. Other countries are more than happy for us to produce more oil and gas for them. Let's dirty up Canada's air, water and land, as long as they get their oil and gas. Other countries have plans to tackle climate change and are likely not going to want to trade with countries that don't. So, yeah, our economy depends on us accepting the fact humans are the main cause of climate change,

Petro-Conservatives or Regressive-Conservatives.
Opposed to all science that inconveniences extractive industries.
In denial of all reality that offends their simplistic dualistic worldview.
Shirking all responsibilities to protect society that limit their freedumbs.
Revising history at will to reduce cognitive dissonance.
Frustrated infants throwing tantrums in the sandbox.

But shouldn't we be even more concerned about the Liberal climate chasm? After all, they are the party in power. Since 2015.
The Liberals are supposed to be the adults in the room. What is their excuse?
While the Conservatives rant and rave, the Liberals are stealing your grandchildren's future from under your nose.
And persuading progressive Canadians to support their climate sabotage and compromise their principles.
Convincing Canadians that we can both act on climate and double down on the problem: fossil fuels.

The Liberals are the party who insist that Canada needs to sell more fossil fuels to fund climate action.
Trudeau: "I took a lot of grief across the country for buying a pipeline. But I knew that if we want to be able to pay for the innovation, the transformation of our economy to be greener, to be cleaner, we need to get the best possible price for our oil products now, and that means getting out across the Pacific. That meant twinning the Trans Mountain pipeline.
"That's why we bought the pipeline, because it was good for Alberta and it's good for the country."
"Braid: Trudeau doesn't look like a Prime Minister who's ready to quit" (Calgary Herald, 21-Feb-24)

The Liberals are the party who buy and build "climate" pipelines (TMX). In a climate "emergency"!
Under Trudeau, Canada remains a climate laggard, not a leader. Climate Action Tracker's most recent report rates Canada's efforts overall as "highly insufficient". Same rating since 2011 -- in every year but one.
The Liberals pander to the fossil fuel industry.
Let fossil-fuel interests dictate the agenda.
Greenlight LNG projects.
Sabotage their own climate policy.
Undermine and fail to defend carbon pricing.
Ignore the best available science.
Take science-based climate policy off the table.
Funnel billions of dollars in subsidies to the überwealthy fossil fuel industry.
Invest billions of dollars into fake climate solutions favored by the O&G industry: carbon capture (CCS), SMRs, and blue hydrogen.
Grossly undercount emissions in the O&G and forestry sectors.
Sell future generations down the river.

The petro-progressive plan to fail on climate is more insidious, more difficult to combat, and it leads progressives astray.

The Conservatives are not our only threat. It's a fatal error to portray the Liberals as an antidote. They both plan to fail on climate. They both support fossil fuel expansion. One openly defies the science; the other pays lip service. One party says exactly what it thinks; the other deals in double talk and deception.
The Liberals and Conservatives are dance partners. Liberal failure and backsliding allows the "conservatives" to shift even further right, doubling down on denial and fossil fuel intransigence.
Implicit climate change denial with a Liberal stamp is no better than the Conservatives's brand of explicit denial. In many ways, it is worse.
The new denialism. Just as delusional as the old kind but more insidious. And far more dangerous.
"The New Climate Denialism: Time for an Intervention" (The Narwhal)

It's not just the Conservatives. It's not just the Liberals and provincial NDP. Our political system has failed us. All sides are unable or unwilling to confront our climate peril.
The focus on the Conservatives is a distraction.

New headline, new byline date, but the same paragraphs and images as the story a few days ago? What?

What do you mean "what?" How about EMPHASIS since repetition seems to be very much the order of the day, and since climate change is by far and away the most important issue facing us, AND Chris Hatch was very much involved in the linked, comprehensive report on peoples' perceptions of the problem, obviously equally important for remedial action? And how their political affiliations are singular indicators of whether or not they even accept the reality before us, with conservative voters being very much THE problem. With the affordability distraction, this report shows that their noxious, shameless brand of populist politics is starting to sway people even beyond their usual reach politically, as polls indicate. This despite a central tenet of their platform being being the wholly inaccurate assumption that they are the majority in this country, including in their denial of climate change.
Stark numbers with visuals from an extensive collaboration of climate action advocates shows, yet AGAIN, just how polarized Canadians are, but also how it's not just the polarization as such that's the problem, extensive though it is, it's the active perpetrators of that polarization, i.e. the relentlessly denying, lying conservatives. AND the mainstream media stupidly practising "bothsidesism," its own dangerous form of denial, even amidst the conservatives actually, actively ripping up the entire script and going completely rogue. So tolerance for THIS falls under the category of what exactly, "boys will be boys?!"
But tolerance there IS, and much study, all of which sanction ever more acceptance of the unacceptable.
So the whole thing is another study of human psychology, how we supposedly somewhat rational beings blithely enable our own demise for the sake of identity and "getting along," sitting down with our smirking saboteurs so we can all "have a conversation." Surely a case of "methinks thou doth protest too much" if there ever was one.
The numbers on the gender divide interestingly show that women are the largest proponents of climate action across the population, and on a par with young people, 75 and 76%, but only 61% of men are in favour. It seems we can declare that roughly 30-40% of us are the problem as dangerous/die-hard conservatives, but that can obviously get up to half or MORE if you play your cards right, play being the operative word, and a GAME the context.
And btw, further to the discussion on the Liberal/NDP merging? In this report, the Liberals AND NDP are basically interchangeable in their reasoned views on climate change AND the actions required, making up the magic majority of those polled. So the obvious solution to that lurking 30-40% that could truly kill us all simply awaits acknowledgement of our own particular brand of denial, our narcissism of small differences.
As I keep saying.

This article cuts to the heart of the matter. A majority of conservative voters (2/3 according to this article) don't believe in the science of climate change, or want to point their ever ready blame fingers at the Fossil Gas and Tarsands elephants in the room. I read recently that roughly 80% of our oil now comes from water intensive in situ mining....bringing to the surface of our Alberta north country the dirtiest fossil fuel on the planet.....and conservatives want that wasteful extraction to continue. When it takes 2 barrels of fossil fuel to get 3 from the tarbeds around Fort really can't afford luxuries such as a price on carbon.

The thing is.......if we let these denialists lite, and blame gamers heavy, form a majority government in the next election........the unaffordability crisis many are facing now is bound to get a lot worse. I've never dreaded summer before, but I am this year. With the drought and water shortages we've already baked in place......we're going to have to get very lucky to avoid more of our boreal lungs burning....and as we breathe in the toxic fumes that come with endless fires we might spare a kind word or two for our PM.

He's far from perfect, but he's not to my knowledge bashed Stephen Harper for all the shilling for the Petrochemical industry that went on during that lost 10 years. Perhaps a few of us liberal/ndp voters shoud review that conservative prelude to what's in store for us, if we fail to keep PP out of office.