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

Shuswap Search and Rescue volunteers were on Owlhead to retrieve a couple who called for help after one of their sleds became stuck on Tuesday, March 2, 2020. (Shuswap Search and Rescue/Facebook photo)
Shuswap Search and Rescue retrieve couple from Owlhead

Call for help made after sled became stuck

Shuswap Adventure Girl Sarah Tokarek has a particular passion for hiking trails around Blind Bay and the South Shuswap. (Contributed)
Shuswap mom helps others find their own outdoor adventures

Sarah Tokarek is Shuswap Adventure Girl, an online trail guide for the region

Protesters stood outside the Vernon Courts Thursday, March 4, 2021, as a Curtis Wayne Sagmoen matter came before the courts once again. (Brendan Shykora - Vernon Morning Star)
UPDATE: Sagmoen to make plea in two weeks for cop assault charge

The offence allegedly took place on Oct. 29 in Spallumcheen

A health worker holds a vial of AstraZeneca vaccine to be administered to members of the police at a COVID-19 vaccination center in Mainz, Germany, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. (Andreas Arnold/dpa via AP)
43 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health

368 cases in the region remain active

Salmon Arm Council will be considering on March 10, 2021 approval of the placing of a notice warning of building bylaw infractions on a local property. (File photo)
City of Salmon Arm takes action on reported building bylaw infractions

If final approval given by council, notice will alert prospective buyers to outstanding issues

Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Dr. Bonnie Henry pauses for a moment as she gives her daily media briefing regarding COVID-19 for British Columbia in Victoria, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
7 additional deaths and 542 new COVID-19 cases in B.C.

Provincial health officials reported 18 new COVID-19 cases linked to variants of concern

Lake Country singer Payton Bischoff is featured in episode four of the Focus Online Series, March 4-7. (Vernon and District Performing Arts Centre photo)
WATCH: Okanagan talents shine under online spotlight

12-year-old from Lake Country, Enderby singer-songwriter-guitarist and Kelowna duo in Focus

B.C. research reveals how pandemic has changed attitudes towards sex, health services

CDC survey shows that 35 per cent of people were worried about being judged

Third-year UBCO nursing student Thomas Pool works alongside community volunteer and registered nurse Sean Garden, as they check drug samples at Living Positive Resource Centre in downtown Kelowna (UBCO)
UBCO drug checking service now offered across Okanagan

The program is in partnership with Interior Health

Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon speaks in the B.C. legislature, describing work underway to make a small business and tourism aid package less restrictive, Dec. 10, 2020. (Hansard TV)
B.C. extends deadline for tourism, small business COVID-19 grants

Business owners expect months more of lost revenues

Anti-pipeline protests continue in Greater Vancouver, with the latest happening Thursday, March 4 at a Trans Mountain construction site in Burnaby. (Facebook/Laurel Dykstra)
A dozen faith-based protestors blockade Burnaby Trans Mountain site in prayer

The group arrived early Thursday, planning to ‘block any further work’

Mid day at the Vancouver Port Intersection blockade on March 3, organized by the Braided Warriors. (Zoë Ducklow photo)
Anti-pipeline blockade at Vancouver intersection broken up by police

Demonstraters were demanding the release of a fellow anti-TMX protester

The man currently being sought by Oliver RCMP in connection to an assault and robbery at the BC Cannabis Store in Oliver. If you know the identity of the man, the RCMP would like to know. (RCMP)
South Okanagan police looking for man accused in robbery and assault at pot shop

The man allegedly assaulted an employee at the BC Cannabis Store

(Government of B.C.)

Most Read