Climate of the Nation 2014


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Are Australians climate dinosaurs? Climate of the Nation 2014, benchmarking Australian attitudes to climate change, finds that political leaders risk being stuck in the past as public attitudes on climate change and its solutions are on the rebound. In mid-2014, more Australians think that climate change is occurring and are concerned about impacts, present and future. There is a rebound in desire to see the nation lead on finding solutions and a strong expectation of government to address the climate challenge. Opposition to carbon pricing has continued to decline and there is a decline in the minority supporting repeal. For the first time more support carbon pricing than oppose it, even though there is lingering confusion around it. For more information, visit

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Climate of the Nation 2014

  1. 1.  1 The Climate Institute Climate of the Nation 2014 Are Australians climate dinosaurs?
  2. 2.  2 “While climate dinosaurs in politics and business roar across our landscape, the majority of Australians are moving in the opposite direction, backing leadership on climate change and its solutions.” John Connor CEO, The Climate Institute Climate of the Nation 2014 Are Australians climate dinosaurs? This presentation summarises The Climate Institute’s report, Climate of the Nation 2014, which benchmarks public attitudes on climate change. The report draws on qualitative (focus groups) research and nationally representative quantitative (poll) research conducted in May 2014. Images: Michael Hall, Creative Fellow of The Climate Institute June 2014
  3. 3.  3 Background Since 2007, The Climate Institute has conducted comprehensive research into Australian attitudes to climate change and related policies, published via its Climate of the Nation reports. This year’s report takes the pulse of the nation on climate change, its impacts and solutions in mid 2014. It compares benchmarked data from similar work in 2012 and 2013. The 2014 research was carried about just before the new Senate was set to vote on the repeal of the carbon laws. It showed that while some ‘dinosaurs’ in business and politics were looking to turn back the clock, the majority of Australians wanted to see stronger action on climate change. The report was launched at the same time as The Climate Institute’s campaign – Stop The Dinosaurs – urging people to help save the laws that are already driving pollution down and growing renewable energy.
  4. 4.  4 Key Findings
  5. 5.  5 • Research into Australian attitudes about climate change and its solutions highlights that 2012 – when the carbon laws were introduced and the political debate was most toxic – was a low point and that attitudes have been rebounding across a range of indicators since then. • In May 2014, a much stronger majority of Australians (70 per cent) accept that climate change is occurring, up 6 points from 2012. Most of those who agree that climate change is occurring say that this is at least partly caused by humans (84 per cent). Attitudes
  6. 6.  6 Attitudes • Importantly, almost all of those who accept that climate change is occurring – 89 per cent – perceive that Australia is feeling the impacts now. • More Australians than ever recorded by Climate of the Nation research now say that they trust the science of climate change. A majority of 51 per cent now hold this view, up 5 points from 2012. • For the first time since the question was first asked in 2012, more disagree that the seriousness of climate change is exaggerated than agree. Today 41 per cent disagree that the seriousness of climate change is exaggerated, while 36 per cent still agree with the statement.
  7. 7.  7 Concerns Australians are sensitive to the impacts of climate change that link extreme weather with threats to economic and personal security. Key among these concerns are the impact of climate change on food security and increases in the cost of living stemming from extreme weather events.
  8. 8.  8 Responsibility Australians ranked the federal government (56%) as having the most responsibility to take a leading role in addressing climate change. But while the federal government is seen as most responsible for action, views on its performance are significantly lower than a year ago, at net good minus poor differential of -18, compared to -1. Australians are deeply cynical about both parties’ approach to climate change, but are particularly mistrusting of Tony Abbott’s attitude. Some 57 per cent think that the Abbott government should take climate change more seriously.
  9. 9.  9 Australians don’t hold much hope that either side of politics has an effective climate plan, with 26 per cent thinking the alp does compared to just 19 per cent believing that the coalition does. These results are the same as last year.
  10. 10.  10 Leadership Australians, particularly women and younger people, increasingly want the nation to be a leader in climate solutions (61 per cent). This is the highest level of support since the highs of 20083 and the second consecutive year the number has risen.
  11. 11.  11 Solutions While almost two-thirds (64 per cent) agree that ignoring climate change is simply not an answer, as it increases the risk of the situation getting worse, Australians are still to be convinced of the solutions on offer. Yet for the first time, more Australians support the carbon pricing laws than oppose them. Over a third (34 per cent) support the laws, which is up 6 points from 2012. Support for carbon pricing has improved over the last two years, mostly driven by a realisation that the policy has not been as detrimental to the economy or to household finances as had been feared.
  12. 12.  12 Solutions Views on carbon pricing + While support for carbon pricing is not strong, opposition has diminished significantly. There is a willingness to give carbon pricing a go. + The proportion of Australians who strongly disagree with the statement “I support the carbon pricing laws” has dropped to 20 per cent, down from 30 per cent in 2012, but only 28 per cent agree with the statement. While not fully convinced of the current carbon laws’ effectiveness, more Australians prefer to keep it over replacing it with the government’s proposed “Direct Action” policy (26 per cent compared to 20 per cent), but a majority chose neither. Only 22% see “Direct Action” as a credible policy that can achieve at least a 5% reduction in emissions by 2020. Men are slightly more positive about the policy than women, at 26% vs 17%.
  13. 13.  13 No referendum for repeal This research reaffirms that attempts by some to characterise the 2014 election as a “referendum on the carbon tax” have little substance. Election Day exit polling found that climate change and the “carbon tax” were the lowest priority issues for voters, with only 5 per cent and 3 per cent selecting them as priority issues, respectively. These issues were eclipsed completely by concerns about the economy (31 per cent) and cost of living (15 per cent). While the poll found that 34 per cent agree with repeal, 27 per cent do not want repeal, and a larger group - 38 per cent – are on the fence and said neither (22 per cent) or don’t know (16 per cent). If people understood that the carbon tax evolves to an emissions trading scheme in July 2015, support would likely be higher (as was the case in 2010 polling conducted by Nielsen).
  14. 14.  14 Renewables While Australians remain confused about the carbon pricing laws and are unsure of the proposed replacement policies, over two-thirds agree that tackling climate change creates new opportunities in renewable energy. Solar, wind and hydro have topped the charts as ideal energy options for three years now. Coal, nuclear and gas continue to be least supported. Given direct planning law changes to the contrary and Treasurer Hockey’s comments that he finds wind farms “utterly offensive”, a substantial majority of Australians (76 per cent) agree “state governments should be putting in place incentives for more renewable energy such as wind farms.”
  15. 15.  15 Doing my bit • Australians look to governments and business for leadership on climate change but they also believe that the response to climate change starts at home. • Australians feel a personal responsibility - “doing my bit” - when it comes to contributing to climate change action. 65% believe that individuals can contribute to addressing climate change. • In terms of the most effective personal actions, Australians rank planting trees and insulating their homes as the most effective. These actions were followed in popularity by installing solar panels and recycling. Putting the ‘I’ in climate change of Australians want the Renewable Energy Target to be at least 20 per cent, with 60 per cent wanting it to be higher, and only 11 per cent who want exactly 20 per cent. 71%
  16. 16.  16 Demographics Younger Australians are most likely to agree that Australia is experiencing the impact of climate change. Among those who think that climate change is occurring, 92 per cent of 18 to 34 year olds and 91 per cent of 35 to 54 year olds believe we are experiencing the impact, compared to 83 per cent of 55+ year olds. Older Australians are also most likely to agree that there are too many conflicting opinions for the public to be sure about claims made around climate change – 62 per cent compared to 49 per cent of 35 to 54 year olds and 52 per cent of 18 to 34 year olds. Men are significantly more likely to agree that the seriousness of climate change is exaggerated (42 per cent compared to 29 per cent of women). More women than men agree that Australia should be a world leader in finding solutions to climate change (64 per cent compared to 58 per cent of men). City dwellers are more likely to think that carbon pricing is helping to reduce Australia's carbon emissions (36 per cent compared to 30 per cent in regional and rural areas). Regional residents are more likely to agree that state governments should be putting in place incentives for more renewable energy, such as wind farms (79 per cent compared to 74 per cent of metropolitan residents).
  17. 17.  17 What portion of our energy should we get from renewable sources by 2020? Vox Pops
  18. 18.  18 In mid-June, we asked some 40 people around Sydney whether they thought that humans were contributing to climate change. These were their responses. Videos documenting their views in full can be viewed at Vox Pops What’s Australia’s position when it comes to climate change? When it comes to energy, what are the jobs of the future?
  19. 19.  19 More information Visit climate-of-the-nation-2014.html Or connect with us on Facebook or Twitter for the latest news on climate action…
  20. 20.  20 Stop The Dinosaurs Visit The dinosaurs in business and politics are looking to kill the carbon and renewable energy laws - laws that are driving down pollution and growing renewable energy like wind and solar. Help us stop the dinosaurs, before it’s too late. Because if the dinosaurs win, we all lose. Take action. Share with your friends, Donate to make sure the ad is seen and Email your Member of Parliament.