Students gather at the B.C. legislature in 2019 for the Student Strike 4 Climate, one of various local events UVic researchers have attended to survey young people about national climate and energy policies. (Black Press Media file photo)

Students gather at the B.C. legislature in 2019 for the Student Strike 4 Climate, one of various local events UVic researchers have attended to survey young people about national climate and energy policies. (Black Press Media file photo)

University of Victoria study gauges young Canadians’ opinions on climate, energy policy

Researchers have surveyed people aged 18 to 29 at local environmental rallies in recent years

While people at local environmental rallies over the last couple months have tried to have their voices heard, Aly Tkachenko – armed with clipboards, pens and surveys – has been looking to hear from them.

She’s the research assistant for a University of Victoria study that in 2018 began looking into what youth think about Canada’s climate and energy policies.

The study’s course has observed the Wet’suset’en LNG protests and 2019’s global climate strikes and is capping off its data collection phase with the local demonstrations against old growth logging that dominated spring. Tkachenko has helped to collect some of that data by handing out surveys and questioning attendees at recent environmental events.

Aly Tkachenko, the research assistant for a University of Victoria study, that began in 2018, that’s been looking into what youth think about Canada’s climate and energy policies. (Jake Romphf/ News Staff)

The study is focused on the 18 to 29 age group, which will have implications for governments, she said, given that demographic represents a large chunk of the voting block. After being at many events this spring, Tkachenko’s seen firsthand how young people are leading the climate justice movement.

“Youth in particular have an affinity for this movement because they feel that it affects them,” Tkachenko said. “They bring a lot of passion to it.”

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The study chose to look at younger people because of their climate activism insurgence in recent years, and because they’re an under-researched group in many circles of academia, especially political science, Tkachenko said.

Researchers have also added a question asking whether respondents’ policy views have changed since the onset of the pandemic. The data, from hundreds of people surveyed and interviewed, will likely start being compiled in July.

“I think there would be interest from government bodies in what kind of polices youth would like to see and how they feel about current policies,” the research assistant said. “Particularly around election time, it could be really valuable knowledge.”

As someone who has always cared for the environment, Tkachenko became frustrated in her undergrad years seeing climate change solutions and recommendations from scientists, mathematicians and engineers ignored by governments. That made her ditch her math major for political science, as she hopes to bring that academic climate guidance to the halls of government.

Seeing the amount of youth at the environmental events she attended gives her hope for the future.

“I would hope that something to come out of this might be having these young peoples’ voices translated into some government action.”

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