Following the severe bushfires last summer and amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Australians are now more worried about climate change, according to the recent Climate of the Nation report from The Australian Institute’s Climate and Energy Program.
The 2020 Climate of the Nation report was based on a survey of approximately 2,000 Australians and was recently launched by the NSW Minister for Energy & Environment, Matt Kean. The annual report has tracked Australian attitudes to climate change since 2007.
The report finds that almost 80% of Australians now believe that climate change is occurring – the highest proportion since the research began and rising from 2019. More than seven in 10 also want Australia to be a world leader on finding solutions to climate change, up 9% from 2019, and more than two-thirds support a national target for net zero emissions by 2050.
These findings broadly align to Energy Action’s most recent client survey that found 80% of business leaders agree they need to take action on climate change. Energy Action’s survey also found that only 24% had adopted net zero as part of their corporate strategy.
Energy Action’s Chief Executive Officer, John Huggart, said: “It’s clear that following the devastating impact of the bushfires last summer, more Australians are now thinking about the impacts of climate change.”
“Collectively, businesses recognise the influential role they can play in mitigating climate change and charting a course towards lower emissions. Finding a pathway to net zero remains high on the agenda for boards and business leaders despite the disruption brought about by the pandemic.”
Prioritising a renewable energy led-recovery
The 2020 Climate of the Nation report reveals that the vast majority (83%) of Australians support a phase-out of coal-fired power-stations and 77% agree that tackling climate change can create opportunities in the clean energy sector for new jobs and investment. As such, the majority (59%) of Australians have a preference for the ongoing economic recovery to be powered through investment in renewables compared to just 12% that prefer a gas-led recovery.
Discussing the report in a statement, Richie Merzian, Climate & Energy Director at the Australia Institute, said, “there is one clear message most Australians want more renewables and fewer fossil fuels. That means phase out coal-fired power stations, bypass a gas-fired transition and plug into renewables to power their future.”
According to the report, solar energy was ranked as the most preferred energy source by 54% of Australians, and 79% ranked it within their top three. Solar is also growing in popularity among businesses, with Energy Action seeing a significant uplift in the proportion of clients installing commercial solar.
John Huggart said: “We have seen residential rooftop solar grow significantly, which reflects the popularity of solar as a preferred energy source among Australians. We are also now seeing commercial solar start to really pick up, with the proportion of Energy Action clients installing solar generation rising from only a handful a few years ago to between 5-10% today.”