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Lowy Poll data shows most Australians oppose climate legislation.

Flickr/Kaptain Kobold

The Lowy Institute 2012 Poll found considerable public opposition to the government’s climate pricing system that comes into effect on 1 July, 2012.

The Poll, published on 5 June 2012, found that the majority (63%) of Australians are against the government’s legislation introducing a fixed price on carbon that will then lead to an Emissions Trading Scheme, with a high proportion (45%) strongly against. However, a third (33%) of the population opposes the legislation and agrees the measures are not strict enough to result in substantial emissions reductions. 

Most Australians (57%) are in favour of a future ‘Coalition government removing the Emissions Trading Scheme’ if it is elected at the next Federal election, with 38% ‘strongly in favour’. 53% of men are ‘strongly against’ the legislation, compared with 36% of women.

“The results show the government has so far failed to sell its climate change legislation, with half the population [52%] concerned it will result in job losses”, said Lowy Institute Executive Director Michael Wesley.

The majority of those in favour of removing the legislation held across all states, age groups, both genders and across income levels.  

The exception is those with a bachelor degree or higher, with only 39% of these Australians in favour of removing the legislation. Even 38% of Australians who say they always or sometimes vote for the Green Party are in favour of removing the legislation.

The Lowy Institute has been conducted polling on Australian views on climate change since 2005. In that time concern for climate change has slipped.

In 2005 and 2006 Australians thought climate change was the number one foreign policy priority; in 2008 it had slipped to the fifth, in 2009 seventh and in 2010 & 2011 down to the ninth of a list of 12 priorities.  

“Australians supported action on climate change, and were prepared to pay for it, when they thought it was a pressing problem. But as they’ve come to see it as less of a problem, they have steadily turned against action on climate change”, said Michael Wesley.

Copies of the 2012 Lowy Institute Poll, and earlier versions are available  free of charge in our Polling Issues page. In coming months, the Lowy Institute will publish a new paper by Visiting Fellow Dr Khalid Koser, on the implications for Australia of climate change and migration.