Case Study Summary

Changing the Climate and Energy Conversation

Regional Hub: Americas
Country: Canada
Action for Climate Empowerment Element: Public Awareness

Canada is one of the world’s biggest carbon emitters per capita. While climate change is a polarizing topic across the globe, this is especially true in Canada and other major emitting countries, like the US and Australia. According to recent polls, 45% of Canadians agree climate change is a real problem but aren’t informed or engaged yet, and which means their support is not reliable. In non-urban areas of the province of British Columbia, Canada, polling has identified over 50% of citizens with similar attitudes. Unfortunately, rural residents are often left out of climate conversations in Canada.

The West Kootenay EcoSociety wants to change the conversation about climate and energy in two rural, industry-based towns in British Columbia. This Case Study will explore the efficacy of using deep canvassing, an established and effective form of persuasion, to talk to people who are currently passively supportive to unsupportive of more climate action. The West Kootenay EcoSociety has been pilot testing deep canvassing since 2020.

The Case Study’s research question is, “can deep canvassing help rural residents in extraction-dependent communities become more supportive of more government action on climate change?” Focusing on the 45-50% of the region’s ‘moveable middle’ residents, the research will track conversation data, including conversations completed, conversations per hour, number of residents who shifted, and persuasion rates, in addition to also collecting attitude and behavioural changes.

Policy makers will be interested in the Case Study’s exploration of how deep canvassing and messages reinforced through strategic communications can be used in key places in big polluting countries, such as Canada, to shift the constituents’ support towards climate populism. Initial learnings compiled through this Case Study will be compiled into a toolkit to support NGOs in adapting learnings and materials.

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