Climate of the Nation report

(Summary by Audrey Quicke and Sumithri Venketasubramanian.
Full report here).

On 3rd November 2022, former PM Malcolm Turnbull launched the Australia Institute’s annual Climate of the Nation report, which tracks:Australia’s attitudes towards climate change and energy

It provides a comprehensive account of changing Australian beliefs and attitudes towards climate change, including its causes, impacts and solutions. For the first time, Climate of the Nation 2022 includes a chapter on Australians’ views on transport solutions, including quantitative polling and qualitative focus group studies.

Climate of the Nation 2022 shows that concern about climate change remains at an all-time high and there is broad support for a range of decarbonisation policies and climate actions.

Concern about climate change remains at record high

Three-quarters (75%) of Australians are concerned about climate change, the same level of concern seen in 2021 and the highest since Climate of the Nation began. The intensity of concern has increased as well, with record high levels of those who are ‘very concerned’ about climate change (42%).

The top three climate impacts of concern are more droughts and flooding affecting crop production and food supply (83%), more bushfires (83%), and the extinction of animal and plant species (80%).

Four-fifths (79%) of Australians believe that Australia’s coal- fired power stations should be phased out, including half (49%) who think they should be phased out gradually and 31% who think they should be phased out as soon as possible. Across all political affiliations, respondents are more likely to think coal- fired power stations should be phased out than be kept running for as long as possible or never replaced by other power sources. Almost two-thirds (65%) of Australians want coal-fired power generation completely ended within the next 20 years, including 38% who want it ended within the next decade.

The rising cost of electricity and gas was in the spotlight for much of 2022. Most Australians blame increasing electricity prices on the privatisation of electricity generation and supply (48%), excessive profit margins of electricity companies (46%), or excessive gas exports making domestic gas really expensive (42%). Almost two-thirds (64%) agree that failure by the market to prepare for a transition away from fossil fuels has led to electricity price increases, including 31% that strongly agree.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) pathway says that no new fossil fuel projects should be approved in order to avoid ‘the worst effects of climate change’ by limiting global temperature rise to 1.5°C. A majority of Australians (57%) support Australia following the IEA pathway, to not approve any new gas, coal or oil projects.

Two-thirds (64%) of Australians support stopping new coal mines. One-quarter (26%) want new coal mines to be allowed, including 6% who support using taxpayer funds to subsidise them. Three-quarters (73%) think Australian governments should plan to phase out coal mining and transition into other industries.