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Sunday, 22 June 2014

Australians unhappy over Coalition's response to climate challenge | Environment | theguardian.com

Australians unhappy over Coalition's response to climate challenge | Environment | theguardian.com





Australians unhappy over Coalition's response to climate challenge




Number of people who accept that change is occurring rises 10 points to 70%, according to a new poll





An Edmond firefighter looks at a fire raging in a mobile home park in Oklahoma on Sunday. Wildfires have become more prevalent in the US because of climate change.
Many believe wildfires have become more common because of climate change. Photograph: Nate Billings/AP


The Australian public is deeply unhappy over the government’s
response to the challenge of climate change, amid a revival in support
for climate science and a strengthening belief that Australia is already
feeling the impact of a warming planet, according to new polling.


The
Climate of the Nation poll, conducted by JWS Research among 1,145 adult
Australians on behalf of the Climate Institute, found that 70% accepted
the mainstream scientific position that climate change is occurring.


This
is a 10% increase compared to when the same question was asked in the
poll in 2012, suggesting a rebounding public belief in the findings of
the overwhelming majority of climate scientists. A further 89% said the
effects of climate change were already beginning to bite in Australia.


But
while more than half of respondents felt the federal government was the
primary body which should address climate change, there was a negative
rating of -18 when people were asked to rank the government’s
performance.


This compares to a -1 rating from last year. These
rankings are the differential between respondents’ "good" versus’ "poor"
response to the government’s performance. Some 57% of those polled said
the government should take climate change more seriously.


A mere
20% of those questioned said they are convinced that Tony Abbott is
concerned about climate change, with 53% feeling that he isn’t. Nearly a
third of people believe opposition leader Bill Shorten is worried about
the problem, with around the same proportion of people thinking the
reverse is true.


In a further blow to the Coalition, for the first
time more people support carbon pricing than oppose it. According to
the poll, 34% back the carbon pricing laws, up 6% on 2012. Public
opposition to carbon pricing has collapsed by 22% since 2012, when the
Coalition was repeatedly attacking the then Labor government over the
policy, the poll found.


The finding comes ahead of the latest
government attempt to repeal the carbon pricing mechanism on Monday. So
far, the dismantling of the carbon price, as well as the scrapping of
associated bodies such as the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, has been
blocked by a combination of Labor and Greens senators.


According
to the poll, 47% of people think that carbon pricing is preferable to no
climate change policy, with just 22% supporting the government’s
alternative Direct Action policy, which will offer voluntary grants to
businesses keen to reduce their carbon emissions.


Meanwhile, 61%
of respondents said they want Australia to be a leader in tackling
climate change, up 9% from 2012, amid solid support for renewable energy
initiatives.


On the Renewable Energy Target, which the government
is currently reviewing amid speculation it may be wound back or
scrapped, 71% of respondents said they want the target to be 20% or
higher by 2020. A further 76% said there should be government incentives
for renewable energy, such as wind and solar.


John Connor, chief executive of the Climate Institute, which railed against climate change ‘dinosaurs’ alongside former Liberal leader John Hewson on Sunday, said there was a strong public expectation for politicians to tackle climate change.

“There
is mistrust of both Tony Abbott and Bill Shorten regarding their
attitudes on climate change, but particularly Tony Abbott,” Connor said.
“Yet a clear majority think the Abbott government should take climate
change more seriously.


“These and many of the other findings this
year reinforce that while the dinosaurs in politics and business are
roaring across our landscape, the majority of Australians are shrewder
about the impacts, the opportunities and the need for leadership.”



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