A survey by GHD, one of the world’s leading professional services companies, has found that only 47 per cent of Canadian consumers and 42 per cent of consumers from the United States believe governments are meeting their responsibilities to achieve net zero by 2050.

There is also a low level of confidence in society (41 per cent Canada/43 per cent U.S. ) and businesses (38 per cent Canada/42 per cent U.S.) to meet this goal.

With so much societal upheaval having occurred since the start of the pandemic, GHD surveyed over 3,000 people across Canada and the U.S. as part of a global survey to assess how changing attitudes and behaviors will reshape the energy world.

“The global shutdown has changed consumers’ environmental consciousness and puts their demand for greener lifestyle choices – and the clean energy transition already underway – into overdrive,” said Dr. Tej Gidda, future energy global leader at GHD.

“If we are to make a successful shift to net zero, it is crucial the public and private sectors work together with consumers to shape a joint vision for how our world needs to operate. The more we commit to the transition and invest in greener technologies and lifestyles, the more momentum will build.”

The Electric Vehicle Revolution 

Consumers across North America are open and enthusiastic about embracing electric vehicles (EVs) as part of the global energy transition. The survey found:

  • 7 per cent of Canadian respondents and 16 per cent of U.S. respondents already drive a hybrid/plug-in hybrid or fully electric vehicle.
  • That number is expected to grow, with nearly half of Canadians (46 per cent) and Americans (45 per cent) considering an EV purchase in the next five years.

However, one of the biggest barriers to increased EV uptake is the concern about the electric charging infrastructure needed to support widespread adoption.

  • 39 per cent of U.S. respondents are concerned they will not be able to access reliable charging infrastructure locally and 28 per cent are worried they will not be able to install a charger at home.
  • Amongst Canadians, that concern is even greater, with 42 per cent concerned about access to local charging infrastructure and 35 per cent apprehensive about their ability to install a charger at home.

The Future of Work

As a result of the pandemic,  82 per cent of Canadian respondents and 78 per cent of American respondents believe their daily habits will change over the long term. This includes how they work and live – which will ultimately change the energy landscape.

  • Going forward, 36 per cent of Canadian respondents and 37 per cent of U.S. respondents expect to work from home more than they did before the pandemic.
  • Residents of both countries expect to spend an average of three hours or more online each day.
  • 15 per cent of Canadians and 30 per cent of Americans and surveyed said their employer’s green credentials impacted their decision about whether to become an employee and would consider those factors when choosing a future employer.

“The shifting workplace dynamics will permanently change how we think about everything – from transportation and digital infrastructure to how we configure our cities and office spaces,” said Greg Carli, sustainability, resilience and ESG advisory leader at GHD.

“These changes will significantly impact how energy is consumed and distributed over a 24-hour period to respond to growing requirements for lighting and consuming more data at home, as well as supporting domestic cooling systems in the summer and heating poorly insulated homes every day throughout the colder months. The challenge for businesses and governments will be to quickly adapt and transition to a re-imagined work and energy model that sustainably meets these new needs.”

Methodology: The survey was conducted among 8,041 consumers within the U.K., US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Singapore. At an overall level, results are accurate to ± 1.1% at 95% confidence limits, assuming a result of 50%. The interviews were conducted online by Sapio Research in February 2021 using an email invitation and an online survey.

GHD’s whitepaper on the survey findings, entitled “The World of Energy Post-COVID,” can be found here.

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