The Australia Institute’s annual Climate of the Nation report provides a comprehensive account of Australian attitudes towards climate change, its causes and impacts, and the integrity of Australia’s current and proposed climate solutions.
For many Australians, 2023 has been defined by the ongoing cost-of-living crisis. The spiralling costs of consumer goods, along with persistently high petrol and energy prices, have left households struggling to make ends meet.
Nevertheless, even with the overwhelming and understandable distraction caused by inflation and ever-growing interest rates, climate change remains at the forefront of the nation’s consciousness. Over 70% of Australians say that they are concerned about climate change and its impacts, including the potential it has to compound existing cost-of-living pressures.
Concern about climate change remains high despite cost-of-living crisis
In 2023, Climate of the Nation asked for the first time about Australians’ concerns regarding the impact of climate change on the cost of living. Three in four (75%) say they are concerned about more expensive insurance premiums, and the same proportion (75%) are concerned about disruptions to supply chains making it harder to buy necessities.
The top three climate impacts of concern are more droughts and flooding affecting crop production and food supply (80%), more bushfires (79%) and the extinction of animal and plant species (79%).
Australians oppose new gas, coal and oil projects and fossil fuel subsidies
A majority of Australians (55%) support Australia following the International Energy Agency (IEA) pathway to avoiding the “the worst effects of climate change” by limiting global temperature rise to 1.5°C—a pathway that requires no approvals of any new gas, coal or oil projects. In addition, 56% of Australians know that opening new coal, gas and oil projects will make it harder for Australia to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 43% by 2030.
Two in three (66%) think Australian governments should plan to phase out coal mining and transition into other industries. Despite this, in 2022-23, Australian governments committed $11.1 billion in subsidies for fossil fuel projects. While one in three (33%) want new coal mines to be allowed, just 7% support using taxpayer funds to subsidise those mines.
Most Australians support a windfall profits tax, and a levy on fossil fuel exports
Three in four Australians (74%) support Australia imposing a tax on businesses based on how much they pollute. Two in three Australians (66%) support a windfall profits tax on the oil and gas industry, and 59% support the introduction of a levy on Australia’s fossil fuel exports to help fund local government actions to prepare for, and protect from, the consequences of climate change.
Australians think fossil fuel companies should pay for climate impacts
Natural disasters cost the Australian economy $38 billion a year, a cost estimated to increase to $73 billion by 2060. Almost half (45%) of respondents believe that fossil fuel producers should pay for the costs of responding to climate change, three times more than who think taxpayers (12%) or people