Support for action on climate change and renewables strongest since 2008 Media Release

Sep 26, 2016 - 12:01am

The 2016 edition of The Climate Institute’s long running benchmark Climate of the Nation research reveals that support for renewables continues to grow and a surprising number of Australians expect federal leadership 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,” said The Climate Institute CEO, John Connor.

Connor said there are three headline findings from this year’s comprehensive national research.

“Firstly, 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. Secondly, 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, a transition to renewable energy and the phasing out of coal. Perhaps surprisingly, despite the frustration, most task the national level of government with the role of leading, but also support state action."

"Thirdly, 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 combine to show the strongest support for action in almost a decade.”

This edition of Climate of the Nation – research which first started in 2007 - provides evidence of the waning impact of debate, among some in politics and the media, about climate change and renewable energy.

“Seventy-seven per cent of Australians now believe climate change is occurring, up from 64 per cent in 2012, with trust in the science up from a minority in 2012 to 60 per cent now. While not all accept climate change is occurring now, concern about current and potential impacts is high, with 82 per cent concerned about droughts, flooding and the Great Barrier Reef,” Connor said. “At the same time, support for coal power is in decline, with three quarters thinking that governments should implement a plan to ensure the orderly closure of old coal power plants and replacement with clean energy. Only 12 per cent include coal in their top three preferred energy sources, in contrast support for wind and solar has continued to grow to 70 and 86 per cent respectively.” 

While there is support for government action, distrust and disappointment is dominant.

“Ninety per cent of Australians think responsibility for action sits at the federal level of government, made up of 67 per cent who say they should take the lead and 23 per cent that say they should contribute. Just 3 per cent say they should take no action. At the same time, only 19 per cent consider the federal government to be doing a good job,” he said. “When it comes to both climate action and energy policy, though, most don’t support delays or half measures - 61 per cent agree a time will come when urgent action becomes necessary, increasing the likelihood of shocks and sudden negative adjustments to jobs, electricity prices and energy security.”

Connor also said that 65 per cent of people want to see Australia be a world leader in finding solutions to climate change, the highest since 2008’s 76 per cent, and up from 52 per cent in 2012. Fifty-nine per cent do not agree that we should wait for other major emitting countries, such as China and the US, before we take action. And Australians generally want more clarity about what individuals and communities can do to help, with 68 per cent of people thinking individuals and households should be contributing to action on climate change.

“With supporting factors such as the successful UN Paris summit, increasing affordability of clean power and transport, as well as mainstream business and investor support, these conditions look more like John Howard’s ‘perfect storm’ of 2007 than 2010-12’s lows after the disappointments of Copenhagen and carbon tax ‘lies’.”

The research for Climate of the Nation 2016 consists of a national Galaxy poll of over 2000 people conducted from 29 July to 7 August, as well as focus groups held by JWS Research in Brisbane, Melbourne and Newcastle.

For more information
Brinsley Marlay ● Media Manager ● 0422 140 555

To access Climate of the Nation 2016 and all the other related content including interactive content, animation and infographics, as well as factsheets and presentations, visit the Climate of the Nation 2016 project page.

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