Almost Eight in 10 Australians Believe Climate Change is Happening
26 September 2016 at 5:06 pm
A new poll has found 77 per cent of Australians believe climate change is occurring now, and 90 per cent think it’s up to the federal government to take leadership on the issue.
The 2016 Climate of the Nation research from The Climate Institute also found that while not everyone accepts climate change is taking place, 82 per cent are still concerned about droughts, floods and the impact on the Great Barrier Reef.
The Climate Institute CEO John Connor told Pro Bono Australia News the result was positive, despite the 23 per cent of Australians who don’t think climate change is a reality.
“We’ve seen a big jump actually in the last year of those who think it’s occurring, and I think it’s important to recognise that that’s occurring now,” Connor said.
“People are coming to grips with the reality that this is an issue for now, not just the future.”
This year’s figure is up from 70 per cent in 2015, and has been growing steadily since a 64 per cent low in 2012 when Connor said “attacks on the science were rampant”.
The report found trust in climate science had gone up to 60 per cent, and 65 per cent of people now want to see Australia become a world leader in finding solutions to climate change.
“The Australian public’s desire for action on climate change, and solutions, is almost as strong as it was when we had bipartisan support for an emissions trading scheme back in 2008, recovering from the lows of 2012 which was the height of the scare campaign before carbon pricing began,” Connor said.
“The sense of urgency has been dampened by frustration with political squabbling, scare campaigns and setbacks. Despite this, there is a strong expectation for leadership and action on climate change.
“People want action to be bipartisan and inclusive – engaging individuals, business and all levels of government in a transition that maximises economic benefits while managing the costs of that shift and of climate impacts.
“All three [key findings] combine to show the strongest support for action in almost a decade.”
Of the 90 per cent who said climate change was a federal government responsibility, 67 per cent said they should take the lead in climate change action and 23 per cent that said they should contribute.
Just 3 per cent said the government should take no action, and only 19 per cent considered the federal government to be doing a good job.
The survey of 2,000 Australians also found support for renewable energy continued to grow, with support for wind and solar as a top-three energy choice for the future growing to 70 and 86 per cent respectively.
Support for coal power is in decline – three-quarters of respondents said governments should implement a plan to ensure the closure of old coal power plants and replace them with clean energy solutions. Only 12 per cent include coal in their top three preferred energy sources.
Connor said a record number of people were also recognising that there were economic opportunities in taking action on climate change.
“Australians, in record numbers, accept climate change is happening, and even more can see economic opportunity in the clean energy future they want to be part of,” he said.