A new poll conducted by the Lowy Institute in Sydney has some startling results on Australians’ view on climate change. As they look back on a summer of major weather catastrophes including massive floods following long draughts and wildfires nearly 40 % of Australians are now not prepared to pay anything if tackling climate change involves a rise in electricity bills. This figure has almost doubled from the results in 2008. The poll shows a massive drop in Australians who believe the country should take urgent steps to address the problem “even if this involves significant costs”. That figure has dropped from 68% in 2006 to 41% today.
Everything about climate change showed remarkable changes in this poll. And it has dropped as one of the issues ranked as a priority for Australia. In 2007 75% of people ranked it as “important” and now only 46% think it is important.
And the number of people willing to pay an extra $10 a month for energy fell to 19%. This was down from 25% last year.
For Labor, which is trying to put a price on carbon against trenchant opposition from Leader of the Opposition, Tony Abbott, there was more bad news. More than 80% of the poll respondents said the government is doing a poor job on the environment.
So what were Australians worried about? Protecting Australian workers, nuclear weapons and terrorism were key for them, and as you can imagine given the politics of Australia, asylum seekers. Interestingly the war in Afghanistan remains deeply unpopular and well over half wanted to see Australian troops come home.
And for such a conservative outlook on climate change the views of Australians on China and wikileaks were interesting. The rise of China was seen to be good for Australia and the wikileaks site gets a big Up from nearly two thirds of Australians.
Labor has yet to announce its price on carbon and the Greens deputy leader Christine Milne said on ABC Television that she thought these poll numbers would change as the plans for household compensation were explained:"I think what we are seeing now is people having been affected by a very strong sceptics campaign ... (but) people are still saying `I'd still like to see some action on climate change'," "People need to be confident that emissions will come down and there needs to be support for renewables and getting on with energy efficiency"
For other great stories on all aspects of climate change, check out Celsias :