Earning Trust in the Transition

Public support is crucial for the success of net-zero policies. Equally important is the trust in those advocating for or developing them. The failure of Ontario’s Green Energy Act exemplifies the consequences of governments neglecting public engagement and support for policies.

Gaining public support for an energy transition strategy has two main components. Firstly, the public must support or be comfortable with the chosen policies and technologies. Secondly, they must trust the actors involved.

This paper identifies energy transition policies and trusted actors based on the results of a recent Ontario survey. The survey revealed that Ontarians generally support energy policies aimed at reducing emissions. Policies with the highest support include the promotion of renewable natural gas (RNG), wind and solar energy, and energy efficiency. Conversely, policies promoting home electrification, oil and gas, and a carbon tax are the least supported.

In addition, it is important that the public trust the actors that are promoting or developing the policy if they are to support them. University researchers, scientists, and non-profit organizations are the
most trusted, followed by the three levels of government. While utilities do not enjoy high levels of general trust, they are considered competent. Mainstream media and oil and gas companies have the lowest levels of trust.