All time high of 75% of Australians concerned about climate change

In the lead-up to Glasgow COP26, concern about climate change is at an all-time high (75%) and 8 in 10 Australians (82%) support the phase-out of coal fired power stations, according to a new benchmark report released today by the Australia Institute’s Climate & Energy Program.

Launched by Chris Bowen MP, the Shadow Minister for Climate Change and Energy, the annual Climate of the Nation benchmark report is the longest continuous survey of its kind in the country and has tracked Australian attitudes on climate change for over a decade, since 2007.

Australians have set multiple records in the in the 2021 report, highlighting just how isolated current Federal Government policy is from community sentiment.

The 2021 Climate of the Nation report, finds that:

  • An all-time high of 75% of Australians are concerned about climate change (40% of which are very concerned), compared to 14% not very concerned, and just 8% who are not concerned at all
  • Seven in ten Australians (69%) think Australia should set targets and implement domestic action to help limit global warming to 1.5-2°C and achieve net zero emissions, only 10% disagree
  • A vast majority of Australians (82%) support the phase-out of coal fired power stations
  • 8 in 10 Australians (79%) rank solar energy in their top three preferred energy sources, compared to 15% for coal and 19% for gas
  • Only 12% of Australians prefer investment in gas to power Australia’s economic recovery, while the majority of Australians (63%) prefer investment in renewables as a pathway for economic recovery
  • More than two in three Australians (68%) believe the Federal Government should be doing more to increase electric vehicle (EV) uptake in Australia, just 17% disagree
  • Australians overestimate gas and oil industry contribution to Commonwealth revenue by a factor of 55x and employment by a factor of 46x, believing, on average, that 9.2% of the workforce is in fossil gas mining when the reality is it represents just 0.2% of the Australian workforce
  • Three in four Australians (75%) agree that tackling climate change creates opportunities in clean energy for new jobs and investment

“Families and households can save thousands in a more renewable economy. This survey makes it clear Australians want to seize those benefits through more affordable clean energy in our grid and our households, and policies to catch Australia up on electric vehicles,” said Chris Bowen, the Shadow Minister for Climate Change and Energy.

“The needle has shifted in the public debate around climate change. Morrison has spent his time as Treasurer and Prime Minister developing slogans instead of policy.

“He’s always too little too late, and it’s Australians that bear the brunt through higher power bills and less new energy investment. It’s a global race to become a renewable energy superpower – it’s clear Australians are on board – it’s past time for the Government to join them,” Mr Bowen said.

“The Glasgow conference is focused squarely on short-term ambition and phasing out coal power, both popular approaches according to our research,” said Richie Merzian, Climate & Energy Director at the Australia Institute.

“There is a shift in how Australians see bold climate action, with three in four Australians agreeing it will bring opportunities for new jobs and investments. The majority of Australians want the Federal Government to move now on decisive climate action, rather than wait for other countries to act.

“Australians have an over-inflated view of the coal and fossil gas sector, when it comes to jobs and tax income. Yet even with this outsized view of the role of the fossil fuel industry in the Australian economy, there is extraordinarily little support for any ‘gas-fired recovery’ and increasing majority support for further renewable power investment,” Mr Merzian said.

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