Climate Change Concerns Climb In Australia

Climate change attitudes in Australia

The level of concern among Australians regarding climate change and its impacts has increased significantly due to the nation’s bushfire crisis.

Climate of the Nation is a long running-survey commissioned by The Australia Institute (TAI), gauging attitudes in the community on the issue of climate change. The latest related poll of 1,033 Australians conducted between 8 and 12 January 2020 indicated 79% of Australians are concerned about climate change, up five percentage points from the July 2019 survey. 47% are “very concerned” – up 10 percentage points.

Climate change concern - Australia poll

Missing from the TAI’s graph is South Australia, which registered 47%.  As for NT/ACT/TAS, results were only shown only for larger states

Other key results:

  • 72% of Australians polled agreed the bushfire crisis is a wake-up call for the world on climate change impacts.
  • 48% agreed mining and burning coal makes bushfires worse, while 34% disagreed.
  • 79% are worried that Australia’s native forests and unique wildlife will never be the same.
  • 33% agreed the federal government has done a good job managing the climate crisis, while 58% disagreed.

“Two thirds of Australians agree the current bushfire crisis demonstrates the cost of inaction on climate change,” said TAI Director, Ebony Bennett. “The fossil fuel companies that profit from climate change should be contributing to meet the costs of climate-fuelled disasters, but currently, it’s the Australian community who pays.”

In the case of the bushfire crisis situation, there have also been a bunch of very generous folks overseas who have seen the plight of Australians and wildlife affected and kicked in a bunch of bucks too.

The full key findings of the latest poll can be viewed here.

TAI’s Polluter Pays (A Bit) Proposal

Last month, TAI released details of its proposed National Climate Disaster Fund (NCDF), which would help address the damage associated with climate change and be funded through whacking  a levy of $1 per tonne on carbon emissions associated with all coal, gas and oil produced in Australia. TAI estimated the levy would rake in around $1.5 billion a year based on current production levels.

Last week, the Institute suggested the Morrison Government’s $2 billion bushfire recovery fund should be paid for by fossil fuel producers.

The Cost Of Inaction Coming Home To Roost

While an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure and the NCDF would be a little like a band-aid over a gangrenous wound; it would be a start.

Last week, Moody’s Analytics said the economic impact from this bushfire season could easily surpass the Black Saturday fires in Victoria in 2009, which cost an estimated $4.4 billion. Any argument about how much climate change contributed to the damage bill  is neither here nor there. The situation happened (and is still happening) and it was/is/will continue to be exacerbated by climate change.

And what dollar value do you put on the decimation of our fauna and flora along with other impacts; some of which we are yet to discover? What about the resulting misery and psychological scarring?

Our lack of required action to rapidly shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources will continue to cost us on all fronts. The arguments against doing so, including “cost” and “jobs”, are looking even weaker. This isn’t just because renewables are cheaper and provide plenty of jobs, but the fact that not using them is going to be incredibly expensive.

If as much effort had been put into boosting renewables such as solar power and related technologies as has been applied to resisting them; we’d all be a lot further down the path towards a clean energy future and perhaps avoid some of the fury the planet we call home has in store.

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