More Australians than ever believe human activity is entirely or mainly responsible for climate change, new polling shows.
By Matt Wade
First published at The Sydney Morning Herald. Monday 1 April 2019.
But only 13 per cent say the Morrison government is doing a good job tackling climate change.
A survey by social research firm Ipsos shows 46 per cent of Australians now agree climate change is “entirely or mainly” caused by human activity. That is the highest share since Ipsos began asking the question in an annual survey of Australians’ attitudes to climate change in 2010.
Another 33 per cent say climate change is “partly caused by human activity and partly caused by natural processes” while 11 per cent said it is “entirely or mainly” caused by natural processes only.
Only 4 per cent say “there is no such thing as climate change” – a share that has remained steady for the past decade.
The survey found a record 65 per cent say climate change is already affecting Australia and is not just a challenge for the future.
An all-time high 52 per cent agreed climate change is causing more frequent and extreme droughts, up from 46 per cent a year earlier.
The proportion that said Australia is already experiencing more frequent and extreme bushfires due to climate change reached 48 per cent, up from 46 per cent a year earlier.
A record proportion also said Australia was grappling with more extreme storms events (48 per cent) and floods (47 per cent) as a result of climate change.
Nearly half of those surveyed (47 per cent) said climate change is causing the destruction of the Great Barrier Reef.
The share of Australians rating the federal government’s management of climate change as “fairly or very good” has fallen from 18 per cent to just 13 per cent during the past year. The share rating the federal government’s management of climate change as “fairly or very poor” has risen from 41 per cent to 50 per cent in that period.
The survey of a representative sample of 1000 people was conducted in December 2018.
Ipsos researcher Jennifer Brooks said there has been a sharp increase in agreement that both the international community and Australia need to do more to address climate change.
“With most Australians thinking we are already seeing the impacts of climate change there is likely to be only an increasing call for action from government and businesses to mitigate the causes and adapt to the impacts of climate change amongst the public,” she said.
Nearly two in three Australians (64 per cent) think that increasing the amount of power generated from renewable energy sources should be an essential or high priority.
A much bigger share of the population believe the shift towards renewable energy will have a positive impact on the economy (39 per cent) than the share who think the economic impact will be negative (24 per cent).
Close to half of respondents (46 per cent) rated the international community’s performance in tackling climate change as fairly or very poor while only 12 per said it was fairly or very good.
The separate Ipsos Issues Monitor, which asks respondents to rate issues select the three most important issues facing the nation, shows there has been a rapid rise in the community’s anxiety about the state of the environment. The share of respondents nominating the environment as a key challenge has doubled over the past three years.