Key findings from the Lowy Institute’s Climate Poll 2021 released today show that Australians are more concerned about climate change than they were this time last year.
The research, conducted by the Social Research Centre, involved both online and telephone surveys of 3286 Australian adults to better understand Australian attitudes to climate change as we emerge from the pandemic.
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While the concern around climate change has broadly increased this year since subdued interest in 2020, it is still eight points lower than 2006, which was when Australians showed a “high watermark of concern” for the issue.
The study revealed that 60 per cent of Australians believe that “global warming is a serious and pressing problem”, up four points from last year, with 74 per cent who believe the benefits of climate action outweigh the costs.
Unsurprisingly, the age gap in mindset is still clear, with a quarter more Australians aged 18–29 than those over 60 who believe that global warming is of serious and urgent concern. The urban-rural divide is narrowing however. The difference between Australians in cities (65 per cent) and in regional and remote areas (56 per cent) who agree with the severity of global warming is only a seven-point gap.
According to the Lowy Institute, “Looking at a range of possible federal government policies, almost all Australians (91 per cent) say they would support the federal government ‘providing subsidies for the development of renewable energy technology’”.
While almost all Australians are supporting subsidies for renewable energy technology, only 55 per cent believe that reducing carbon emissions should be the government’s main priority in terms of energy policy. This compares with 32 per cent who prioritise reducing household bills and 12 per cent who are concerned about the risk of power blackouts.
The attitude to coal production and exportation has shifted, as the results show that six in ten Australians agree with banning coal mines in Australia, and the same number supporting the reduction of coal exports. This has changed dramatically from five years ago when 66 per cent of Australians were in support of exporting coal.
The majority of Australians (58 per cent), however, are in support of the Morrison government’s fossil fuel solution to replacing coal, and are in favour of a ‘gas-fired recovery’.