Huge Majority Supports Renewables Over Coal Even At Greater Cost

FairfaxNick O'Malley

Australians overwhelmingly believe that the government should focus on renewable energy over coal-fired power plants, even if such a measures were to cost more, the 2018 Lowy Institute’s annual poll on Australian attitudes has found.
When asked if the government should focus on renewables “even if this means we may need to invest more” or traditional energy “even if this means the environment may suffer to some extent” 84 per cent of respondents opted for renewables. Last year the figure was 81 per cent.
The poll also found that the number of Australians who believe that global warming is a “serious and pressing belief” has climbed to 59 per cent, up five percentage points since last year up and 23 points since 2012. Concern about global warming is now as high as it was back in 2006, the previous peak.
This jump in concern about climate change represents the most significant change in opinion ever found by the poll in its 14 years. It also found Australians consider climate change to be the third most significant national security threat after international terrorism and the North Korean nuclear program.
The government has called for the Liddell power station in the Hunter Valley to remain open. Photo: Janie Barrett
The Lowy Institute's director of research, Alex Oliver, said she believed that Australians' concern about climate change began to fall when key pieces of legislation were introduced by the Rudd government to combat it, but when they saw those policies being dismantled, concern for the issue began to grow again.
Ms Oliver said she had presumed that the government's fierce support for coal power, particularly its call to keep the Liddell power station open, would see support for coal increase this year. Instead the government finds itself out of step with popular support for renewable energy.
According to the research even among those who were most sceptical of climate change - the 10 per cent who say they are sure it is not a problem - 40 per cent still support a focus on renewables. Of the rest of the community, nine out of 10 support a focus on renewables over coal, as do 72 per cent of Liberal-National supporters.
The poll showed that the issue of climate change continues to divide the Australian community along generational lines.
A full 70 per cent of Australians between the ages of 18 and 44 see global warming as a serious and pressing issue, but only 49 per cent of people over that age do.
For this year’s Lowy Institute poll 1200 respondents were conducted via telephone and online surveys.

2018 Lowy Institute Poll

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