What Australians really think about climate change

TGL News

Solar the preferred energy source and in Queensland majority wants coal fired power station phase out – here’s what we’ve learned from the Australia Institute’s 2019 Climate of the Nation report.

Each year for over at decade, the Australia Institute takes the pulse of Australia’s attitude towards climate change.

This year the report has identified growing concern for the impacts of climate change, with 81 per cent of Australians fearing an increase in extreme weather events such as droughts and flooding, and 78 per cent expecting climate change to lead to further animal and plant extinction and water shortages.

It also found broad support for the phasing out of coal fired power plants, with the most noteworthy statistic pointing to almost three quarters of Queenslanders agreeing they should be phased out either as soon as possible or gradually.

Queensland has very strong support for phasing out coal

Contrasting with the federal government’s bid to extend the life of ageing coal power stations, 70 per cent of respondents supported the idea of a government plan to ensure their “orderly closure and replacement with clean energy”.

Respondents felt similarly about the closure of coal mines, with 64 per cent wanting the federal government to stop new coal mines, and 31 per cent of these willing existing mines to close “as quickly as possible”. There was next to no support for subsidising new coal mines – just 4 per cent.

In reality, coal mining makes up just 2.2 per cent of our GDP and employs only 0.4 per cent of workers.

Interestingly, the report found Australians also overestimated the economic significance of the nation’s coal industry.

It found Australians, on average, believed coal mining to contribute 12.5 per cent to our gross domestic products and employs 9.3 per cent of the workforce. In reality, coal mining makes up just 2.2 per cent of our GDP and employs only 0.4 per cent of workers.

Of the energy sources, the report identified solar as the most popular, with 76 per cent ranking solar power among their preferences. Solar was then followed by three other renewable sources: wind, hydro and storage.

The majority of Australians believe the federal government should set a target of net zero emissions by 2050 and 62 per cent support the idea of funding climate adaptions and disaster responses via a levy on fossil fuel exports.