Image: The number of people “very concerned” about climate change continues to increase, according to the report.(Supplied: Australia Institute)
Report shows growing number of Australians believe climate change effects already being felt
Over the past 15 years, Australians have weathered myriad climate-related disasters including catastrophic bushfires, devastating droughts, and now destructive floods.
- A report shows a majority of Australians are concerned climate change will result in droughts and flooding that will affect food supply
- The number of those “very concerned” about climate change continues to increase year on year
- A growing number of Australians believe climate change is happening now
It is perhaps unsurprising that new research shows people’s attitudes towards climate change have shifted as they have been exposed firsthand to the impacts of a warming planet.
Those attitudes have been mapped out in the annual Climate of the Nation report, which began in 2007 and is now conducted by internet-based market research firm YouGov for think tank The Australia Institute.
According to the latest Climate of the Nation report, Australians have become more worried about the effects of climate change with 75 per cent of respondents concerned and that number rising to 84 per cent among 25 to 34-year-olds.
Climate impacts already being felt
One of the most dramatic shifts to have occurred over the past few years has been people’s belief that climate was already having impacts, with more than half believing we are experiencing the impacts “a lot”, up from 33 per cent in 2016.
Only 6 per cent of Australians believe we are not experiencing climate change impacts at all.
In 2018, only 39 per cent of people believed that heatwaves and extremely hot days were being driven by climate change. That number has risen to 52 per cent.
There were similar results for questions about climate change’s impacts on droughts, floods, and bushfires.
The majority of Australians were also concerned that climate change would result in more droughts, floods, bushfires, and other extreme weather events.
“As flood waters continue to rise at record levels, so too does the number of Australians worried about climate change impacts with concern over floods at record highs,” The Australia Institute’s director of climate and energy, Richie Merzian, said.
“As the climate minister prepares to front the world at COP27 in Egypt, he can feel confident that most Australians want the nation to be a world leader on climate action and two-thirds want to host a United Nations Climate Conference on home soil.”
Conflicting opinions muddy waters
The report found “conflicting opinions and perceived exaggerated claims about the impact of climate change continue to muddy the waters when it comes to some Australians’ attitudes to climate change”.
And despite concern about the impact of climate change, 30 per cent of respondents believed the seriousness was exaggerated, although it said that perspective tended to line up with party political affiliations.
Sixty-six per cent of One Nation voters believed the seriousness of climate change was exaggerated, compared with 12 per cent of Greens voters, 21 per cent of Labor voters, 47 per cent of Coalition voters, and 33 per cent of other voters.
The Australian Greens have been calling for climate impacts to be part of any fossil fuel project approval by the federal environment minister, known as a “climate trigger”. An overwhelming 80 per cent of respondents said they would be in favour of such a policy.
Respondents were also asked whether they supported a windfall profits tax on the oil and gas industry, with 61 per cent behind the idea and only one-fifth opposing it.
“The Climate of the Nation report shows Australians are fed up with the mismanagement of the country’s natural resource wealth and want a windfall profits tax on the gas industry and a levy on our fossil fuel exports to help pay for climate related disasters,” Mr Merzian said.
“Australians are dealing with the high-cost consequences of relying on gas and coal power and three quarters want the government to step in and plan the shift to renewables and storage.”
“We MUST respect this earth - it is all we have
Claudio Dametto - South Australia
“I will always Vote to Preserve Our World.
Liam McGregor - Western Australia
“A simple message that even a politician can understand
Felicity Crombach - Victoria
“Please show you care about our future generations!!
Phil Harmer - New South Wales
“Save our world , Life & health before profits.
Kerry Lillian - New South Wales
“Close down all coal mines and Do not mine gas . Make these Companies
Daniel Johnson - New South Wales
“We want carbon free energy!
Edan Clarke - New South Wales
“Feels good to be taking a voter action step
Beaver Hudson - New South Wales
“Great Initiative. Let’s Hold elected officials Accountable to their bosses, us!
John Paul Posada - New South Wales
“We need actions not words we need honest democratic govt We need a pm
Bob Pearce - South Australia
“Thank you for this great resource. I was feeling helpless. Even this small step
Silvia Anderson - Victoria
“If political parties continue receiving political donations, we will rarely have politicians working for
Dan Chicos - New South Wales
“I only vote for people who will take urgent action to restore a safe
Susie Burke - Victoria
“Current government is not representing the opinion of the majority of Australian to meet
Neil Price - Tasmania
“We are fighting to rescue our kids' future from those who seek to steal
Vanessa Norimi - Queensland
“No time to waste Now or Never My vote is for NOW
Rosalie White - Victoria
“I am only 9 but I already care
Ava Bell - New South Wales
“From New Lambton Uniting Church - Caring for our world is a moral imperative.
Niall McKay - New South Wales
“Our federal govt is an International climate Embarrassment - its about time they stepped
Oriana Tolo - Victoria
“Vote earth this time!
Sue Cooke - Queensland
“We are in one on the wealthiest countries in the world. we have the
rowan huxtable - New South Wales
“The climate Emergency is the public health opportunity and urgent priority of the 21st
Mike Forrester - Victoria
“If they want my vote they better act now
Barbara McNiff - New South Wales
“We need to act locally now for the earth. Our only home. Vote Earth
Anne Miller - New South Wales
“I often look at the places I've known all my life and see how
Jim Baird - New South Wales
“Strike one For people power!!! Democracy might prevail outside the current cronyism that faces
Lorraine Bridger - New South Wales
“Our federal politicians Are Afraid to make action on climate change a major election
Jennifer Martin - New South Wales
“climate election, let's go!
Fahimah Badrulhisham - New South Wales
“Great to see this website that is a focus on action for climate change
Lynette Sinclair - New South Wales
“Let’s show politicians and the Murdoch media that climate change is by far the
Jane Aitken - Australian Capital Territory
“If you want to stay in power You need to take action to stop
Jane Bulter - New South Wales
“We are all that stands between terminal climate change and the vulnerable. We are
Carol Khan - Queensland
“We need a Government that Believes this is real and not taking money from
Ken Gray - New South Wales
“I'm voting for my childrens future
Anneliese Alexander - New South Wales