Concern about climate escalates as bushfire crisis continues: Climate of the Nation polling


The current bushfire crisis has intensified Australians’ concern about climate change and its impacts, according to new polling from the Australia Institute’s Climate of the Nation.

The Australia Institute commissioned YouGov, which surveyed 1,033 Australians between 8 and 12 January 2020 on issues relating to climate change and the bushfires. Climate of the Nation is the country’s longest continuous survey of community attitudes to climate change in the country.

Key Findings:

  • 79% of Australians are concerned about climate change, an increase of five percentage points from July 2019 (74% concerned).
  • One in two Australians (47%) are “very concerned” about climate change, up 10 percentage points since July 2019 (37% “very concerned”).
  • 57% of Australians say that we are experiencing “a lot” of climate change impacts in Australia, up 14 percentage points since July 2019 (43% we are experiencing “a lot”).
  • 73% agree “Leadership on the bushfire response requires the Prime Minister to lead on climate change action” (19% disagree)
  • 67% agree “Climate change is making bushfires worse” (26% disagree)
  • 66% agree “The current bushfires demonstrate the cost of climate inaction”
  • 33% agree “The federal Coalition government has done a good job managing the climate crisis” (53% disagree)

“The bushfire crisis has intensified concern about climate change for many Australians, a majority of whom think the country is experiencing the impacts of climate change right here and right now,” said Ebony Bennett, deputy director of The Australia Institute.

“Almost seven in ten Australians see the clear link between the bushfires and climate change and they want the government to lead on climate action.”

“There is also a clear emotional toll, and the distressing images of dead and injured wildlife and charred forests have left most Australians worried that the bush will never be the same again.

“Two thirds of Australians agree the current bushfire crisis demonstrates the cost of inaction on climate change. The fossil fuel companies that profit from climate change should be contributing to meet the costs of climate-fuelled disasters, but currently, it’s the Australian community who pays.

“That’s why the Australia Institute is proposing the creation of a National Climate Disaster Fund, financed by a levy of $1 per tonne of carbon dioxide pollution resulting from all coal, gas and oil produced in Australia. Such a levy would currently raise around $1.5 billion a year,” said Bennett.

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