Environics Analytics Senior Vice President Rupen Seoni with his second in a series -- Deciding Votes 2019 -- on the upcoming election.

TORONTO -- Action on climate change is a critical issue in this federal election. A few questions seem to lie at the heart of the debate:

  • How do we trade off some economic prosperity for action on climate change? (or do we need to?)
  • How much should Canadians pay?
  • Even if Canadians act, do voters believe it would make a difference anyway?

To understand which voters are most likely to be receptive or opposed to climate-friendly initiatives, we’ve done some analysis on segments of the population and their Social Values.

Specifically, we examined Ecological Concern and Ecological Lifestyle through the lens of Environics Analytics’ PRIZM lifestyle segments.

  • You can find which one of the 68 PRIZM lifestyle segments your six-digit postal code is assigned to by entering it in our PRIZM Lookup tool.

This approach allows us to quickly understand which population segments score stronger or weaker on these values. Because we have projected about 30,000 data points to every one of Canada’s 800,000 six-digit postal codes, we can estimate which ridings (and even which polling divisions and neighbourhoods) are likely to be strong or weak on this value and any of our other data points.

Political parties or advocacy groups can use the data to get a comprehensive view of the voters they are trying to speak to. This helps them craft more effective messaging, reach their desired audiences via the media channels and in the locations where they are most likely to find them.

So, what do these Social Values mean? Ecological Concern identifies how strongly people trade-off environmental degradation for jobs and economic growth, and whether individual action is worth the effort. The formal definition is:

A tendency to believe that today’s environmental problems are a result of industrial and personal disregard for the environment. People strong on this construct feel that ecological destruction is unacceptable and reject the notion that job protection or economic advancement should be allowed at the expense of environmental protection. They also reject the idea that any one person is too small to contribute to this project.

Ecological Lifestyle is a bit different. It gets at direct consumer behaviours, identifying whether consumers are willing to pay more or do without to protect the environment:

The propensity to give a high priority to integrating environmental concerns with purchasing criteria. This can have positive consequences when consumers are willing to pay more for an environmentally friendly product. And, negative consequences when consumers refuse to buy a product whose manufacturer has a poor environmental record.

PRIZM segmentation analysis gives a nuanced picture of the “who” and the “what.” The interplay between these Social Values helps to understand who purports to believe the environment must be protected even if we are less economically prosperous (and vice versa). And, who is willing to pay out of pocket or curtail consumption personally to protect the environment. As we typically do, the 68 individual PRIZM segments are combined into 14 broader voter segments based on similarities in demographics, location, and voting tendencies. Here are a few highlights from our analysis of how these segments score on environmentally focussed Social Values:

Young in the City

Young urban singles and couples are the most committed, showing high scores on both Social Values; they believe the environment should be a priority over economic development and are willing to pay more or curtail consumption of environmentally unfriendly products.

Environics Environment 1

Big-City Burbs

Well-off, culturally diverse families in the suburbs around large metros, aren’t that willing to trade off jobs and economic prosperity for environmental protection, but they score average on willingness to take personal action as consumers, indicating they might accept certain environmental taxes or policies that aren’t seen to put a dent in economic growth.

Environics 2

Aging Heartland

Small-town or rural families and empty nests show an average level of acceptance for protecting the environment over jobs and the economy, but are unwilling to personally pay more for their consumption, or avoid environmentally unfriendly products.

Environics 3

Riding Level Implications

We can score ridings on each of these Social Values to understand how receptive voters might be to different types of policies. These are selected examples from each category.

Supportive (High Ecological Concern, High Ecological Lifestyle)

  • Toronto—Danforth, ON
  • Davenport, ON
  • Toronto Centre, ON
  • Vancouver Centre, B.C.
  • Calgary Centre, AB

Possibly Supportive of Taxes/Regulations (Low Ecological Concern, High Ecological Lifestyle)

  • Vancouver Kingsway, B.C.
  • Vancouver South, B.C.
  • Scarborough North, ON
  • Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel, QC
  • Scarborough—Agincourt, ON

Possibly Accept Environmental Protection at the Cost of Some Economic Growth, but Less Accepting of New Taxes (High Ecological Concern, Low Ecological Lifestyle)

  • Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC
  • Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC
  • Lac-Saint-Jean, QC
  • South Okanagan—West Kootenay, B.C.
  • Desnethé—Missinippi--Churchill River, SK
  • Unsupportive (Low Ecological Concern, Low Ecological Lifestyle)
  • Fort McMurray—Cold Lake, AB
  • Grande Prairie—Mackenzie, AB
  • Bourassa, QC
  • Brampton West, ON
  • Surrey—Newton, B.C.