By Shruti Sandhu
With Climate Change being one of the ballot box issues for the upcoming Federal Election, candidates would do well to recognize the importance climate change plays in the electoral calculus of Canada’s millennials. Candidates without a credible plan on climate change will find it difficult to gain the support of Canada’s largest voting segment.
In our most recent Canadian Millennials Report, we found that 87% of millennials consider themselves to be either environmental moderates or ardent environmentalists. This attitude demonstrates that most millennials care, in some capacity, about the environment. However, to represent millennials as a bunch of ardent climate activists would be a misnomer. Millennials and the rest of Canada see a multitude of options available to address climate change that is as diverse as they are. Regulation, innovation, incentives, and punishment are all things that millennials, and more broadly Canadians, think any good environmental plan should have.
Note: This graph is representative of the general population, not millennials specifically.
To further this, millennials have different views on the government’s performance on climate change. In a survey we conducted earlier this year (just before the federal carbon pricing policy came into effect), 37% of millennials said that they think that the federal government has done a poor or very poor job on climate change. Meanwhile, 28% of millennials believe that they have done an acceptable job and 17% believe that they have done a good to very good job.
As millennials make up 27.5% of the Canadian Population and 37% of the electorate they have the potential to swing the vote. While the traditional pocketbook issues will certainly play a factor, the issue of climate change may just be catalytic enough to drive them to the polls. At 73%, millennials are more likely than other generations to consider climate change as one of their top five factors affecting their vote. 15% consider it to be their number one issue.
Millennials are not the innocuous activists they were once supposed to be. They are a present electoral reality, and if political parties want to win in October, they need to have the millennials on-side. They are environmental stewards who want to see electric vehicles become a majority. They are the future, and their opinion on how climate change should be resolved is guaranteed to steer their votes this upcoming election season. What politicians and their parties will do about it remains to be seen.