Most Australians say the government should lead by example on climate change action, a poll by the Lowy Institute has found.
Sixty-three per cent of respondents agreed with the statement: “The Australian government should commit to significant reductions so that other countries will be encouraged to do the same.”
Only 35 per cent said the government should wait for other nations to act.
The number of Australians who believe global warming is a “serious and pressing problem” has also risen to a seven-year high of 50 per cent.
This is down from its all-time high of almost 70 per cent in 2006, when much of Australia was in the grip of a drought, and then opposition leader Kevin Rudd was describing climate change as the “the greatest moral, economic and social challenge of our time”.
That 50 per cent is up from a low of 37 per cent in 2012, but is still well below the scientific consensus.
According to US government’s NASA, 97 per cent of scientists agree that climate change is real and most likely caused by human activity. While the effects are disputed most scientific bodies agree they are potentially “very serious” and require “urgent action”.
The poll found women are much more likely to be concerned about the effects of global warming, with 70 per cent favouring strong action, compared to 56 per cent of men.
The most striking figure in the report was the overwhelming bullish attitude towards solar energy.
Forty-three per cent believed solar power will be our main source of electricity generation in 10 years’ time. Just 17 per cent said coal, currently far and away our biggest source of energy, will generate most our electricity in 10 years.
Under-30s were also overwhelmingly in favour of climate change action, with 70 per cent supporting significant emissions cuts.
Interestingly, Australians appear to share Tony Abbott’s distaste for wind power.
While turbines currently generate more of Australia’s electricity (three per cent) than solar (two per cent), just seven per cent of respondents believe wind will be our main source of electricity in 2025.