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What do York Students thinks about Climate Change? Report on Results of our carbon offsetting survey

THEME: Campus Sustainability

TITLE: What do York Students thinks about Climate Change? Report on Results of our carbon offsetting survey

AUTHOR(S): Tony Morris

EDITOR(S): Dawn Bazely, Annette Dubreuil, and Laura Zeno

DATE: May & July 2008

TAGS: carbon offsets, carbon footprint, carbon neutral, Zerofootprint, ecological footprint

ABSTRACT: Earlier this year a group of us at IRIS began surveying the York student community about their opinions on climate change and carbon offsetting. The online Carbon Offset survey was the result of the exciting and precedent setting carbon offsetting initiative for course kits launched between the York University Bookstore and Zerofootprint. In all, around 500 student members of the York community, representing all of the University’s diverse faculties, were surveyed. This represented about 1% of the York student community, and we were satisfied that this would give us a reliable picture of the range of opinions. Members of the York community, like Canadians as a whole, are concerned about the environment and acknowledge that responsibility is shared by all. The survey yielded three major findings. In response to the question asking who should take the most responsibility for acting on climate change issues: government, industry, individuals, institutions, or “we all have equal responsibility”, we were quite surprised to find that most respondents said that everyone must share responsibility for acting. This seems to signal a shift in which all segments of society are seen as having a responsibility for doing something about the complex issue of climate change. Our finding was in line with one result from a recent Harris-Decima poll on the New Environmentalism. In response to a question about whether industry or individuals were the most responsible for addressing climate change, the majority stated that both are equally responsible. Secondly, York students are willing to pay significantly more for environmentally friendly products or services. Our survey first asked, “Are you willing to pay more”, and if so, how much more? A large majority of respondents were willing to pay more, and to pay a significant percentage more. Generally, the results were similar for all surveyed faculties and disciplines. The views of respondents from the Faculty of Environmental Studies did not inflate this finding. The third significant finding was that a majority of the York community surveyed would like to see investment in environmental initiatives at the local level in renewable energy or energy conservation projects. While respondents could select all three investment choices: renewable energy, energy conservation, and tree planting, renewable energy was the most popular choice. Interest in local offsetting initiatives was high, with the Toronto area having the highest support. The survey results will assist the development of future climate change and sustainability initiatives at York University.

LINKS: To view the entire publication, go to

COPYRIGHT: Copyright © 2008 Institute for Research and Innovation in Sustainability

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Morris, T.; 2008.  Carbon Offsetting:“What do York Students think about Climate Change?”