The Lowy Institute has surveyed Australians about their views on global warming and climate change for the past fourteen years. Public support for action on climate change was high in the 2006 Lowy Institute Poll, but then fell consistently until 2012. One explanation for this could be political infighting and leadership churn in Australia, as well as a fierce campaign against a ‘carbon tax’. But the impact of severe droughts is another possible factor.
In a dramatic reversal of attitudes since 2012, however, concern about global warming has been rising steadily over the past six years. In 2019, six in ten Australians (61%) say global warming is ‘a serious and pressing problem’ about which ‘we should begin taking steps now even if this involves significant costs’. The issue of climate change and global warming continues to split Australians along generational lines. A clear majority (76%) of young Australians aged 18-44 agree with this statement, compared to just half (49%) of their elders.
Below we chart the results of Lowy Institute polling since 2006 on the issue of global warming, accompanied by a timeline of important developments in Australia’s climate policy history.
This is an early release of climate change results from the Lowy Institute Poll 2019. The full report will be released in June. More information on Australian attitudes towards climate change and other foreign policy issues is available at the Lowy Institute Poll interactive.
There is a controversy over what the countries of the world, including Australia, should do about the problem of global warming. I’m going to read you three statements. Please tell me which statement comes closest to your own point of view:
- Global warming is a serious and pressing problem. We should begin taking steps now, even if this involves significant costs.
- The problem of global warming should be addressed, but its effects will be gradual, so we can deal with the problem gradually by taking steps that are low in cost.
- Until we are sure that global warming is really a problem, we should not take any steps that would have economic costs.