Strategy

The CEO Poll: Hot air II

Canadian business leaders on global warming and carbon tax.

Business leaders give the federal mini-budget high marks.

The environment is shaping up to be a key issue in the federal election, and in a recent web poll of 122 Canadian CEOs conducted by COMPAS Inc., a majority of participants said their views on global warming and climate change are most closely aligned with those of Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

The respondents can be more or less evenly divided into one of three groups when it comes to climate change — those who believe human activity is responsible, skeptics who say humans are not responsible or that global warming and climate change are not taking place at all, or neutrals, who believe it is simply too early to tell. The opinion that human activity is leading to global warming and climate change is down among panelists, with just 30% agreeing today compared to 41% in 2006.

Comments from the respondents indicate a wide spectrum of opinions. “Gullible young people are not being taught to rationally question theories using scientifically based analysis. Instead, they are being ‘Suzukified’ and being transformed into mindless adherents to a fashionable cause,” wrote one.

Another CEO wrote that humans affect the environment in a number of ways, and that “carbon is but one. I suspect that we are going to be finding many other sources of concern in the years to come.”

Most of the panelists identified with Harper’s views on the environment, a group that included the majority of the climate change skeptics and those who are neutral on the issue. Slightly less than a quarter of respondents said Liberal leader Stéphane Dion’s views were closest to their own, while 10% cited Green Party leader Elizabeth May.

Almost all participants had some concern about the effect of a carbon tax on the economy. But a few CEOs argued that sacrifices are necessary. “We can’t have our cake and eat it, too,” wrote one. “We may just have to knuckle under and pay a price to keep living on this planet and doing business.”