8 in 10 Australians are concerned about climate change with a clear public expectation of Government action

Regional and metro Australians are increasingly concerned about climate change and have similar expectations regarding what needs to be addressed and by whom

The annual Ipsos Climate Change Report 2022 shows the majority of Australians are concerned about climate change (83%) and 70% consider that Australia is already being affected by climate change, primarily with more frequent and extreme natural disaster events which is a steady increase in concern and up from 56% in 2011. 

Interestingly, the proportion of people expressing doubt about whether climate change is actually occurring has remained relatively steady over the same period, with 24% currently expressing this view. The level of doubt is significantly higher in NSW with this figure rising to one in three (32%).

PictureData collected in March 2022 shows that Australians see the most benefit in our governments taking action to address climate change as opposed to what individuals and SMEs can achieve. 

  • Seventy-two percent (72%) of Australians consider that the Federal Government has a reasonable degree of power to influence climate change through decisions made, with 52% of Australians considering the Federal Government has ‘a lot’ of power to positively influence climate change.
  • Yet perceived performance of all levels of Australian government, and overseas governments, is considered relatively poor in contrast to what not-for-profits, Australian small and medium businesses, and individuals are doing. 

Australians want action and this is likely to be reflected in voting decision making

Two thirds (66%) of people agree that Australia should be doing more to address climate change and 64% want Australia to be a global leader in emissions reduction. 

Currently opinions are divided on whether current Federal Government measures to address climate change are too much, too little, or about right. 

  • 10% consider the existing federal measures to be ‘too much’, 30% consider them ‘about right’, 44% think they are ‘too little’ (16% are ‘unsure’).
  • Despite feeling the impacts of natural disasters to a greater degree, regional Australians hold similar views to those living in major cities about whether the Federal Government’s measures are sufficient.
  • NSW residents are significantly more likely to agree that the Federal Government’s measures are ‘about right’ (37%) and 12% of NSW residents consider these actions ‘too much’. 

There are some clear voting intentions when it comes to climate change policy: 

  • While one in five Australians (19%) state the environment is ‘the most important issue’ they will be considering when deciding who to vote for in the next election; 59% of Australians either currently are, or will contemplate, taking policies addressing climate change into account when deciding a candidate or party to vote for.
  • The data shows that metropolitan, inner regional and outer regional / remotely based Australians are similarly aligned on the issue of climate change and expectations of government to act.
  • Australians who have a two-party preference towards the ALP are more likely to prioritise the environment in their decision making process (29% consider the environment the most important issue impacting their decision making it equally important as the economy at 28%). 

Ipsos Public Affairs Director, Stuart Clark, said: “Awareness and expectations among Australians regarding our climate are growing. There is a concern among Australians and a desire for the government to act. Policy will be a key part of the people’s decision making coming into the election. The question is how the key players will manage it given there is a divide in the community as to what is too much or too little action. 

“Australians see a role particularly for governments and large businesses to drive positive change utilising policy, improved technologies, and increased transparency.” 

Do businesses need to become more public when it comes to disclosing environmental policies, practices and performance? 

When it comes to business actions, Australians focus predominantly on the role of multinationals and large Australian businesses for their capacity to effect positive impacts on climate change. 

  • Sectors that are most considered to be able to have positive impacts are resources, mining, oil, and gas (46%), energy (43%), transport (31%), and automotive (31%).
  • Sectors such as fashion, retail trade, and pharmaceuticals are perceived by Australians to be less likely to be able to influence climate change despite global pushes elsewhere focusing on industries such as fast-fashion and their negative impacts. 

Only 40% of Australians consider that businesses in Australia are committed to climate change. Consumers see the solution as twofold – there is strong potential for businesses to innovate and drive technology solutions; and an increase in transparency is required.

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  • Sixty-five percent (65%) of Australians believe there should be a focus on helping businesses become leading innovators, especially with renewables.
  • Additionally, when prompted among a list of 32 environmentally related issues, ‘the development of new technology to reduce emissions’ ranked #8 in priority for action (nominated by 36% of Australians). 

Sixty percent (60%) of Australians consider that publicly listed companies should be mandated to report on environmental performance. 

Individuals are increasingly transitioning to solar and other renewable energy sources and making active ‘green’ choices in product and service selection

Australians also see individuals as having a role in addressing climate change; however, perceive their actions may have less of an impact than government and business. Regardless, Australians are increasingly conscious of their own personal empowerment and action they can take. 

  • There has been an increasing trend of acknowledging ‘it is my responsibility to help to do something about climate change’ up from 55% agreement in 2017 to 67% agreement in 2022
  • As well as an increasing trend that ‘I personally feel that I can make a difference with regard to climate change’, up from 37% in 2017 to 54% in 2022.

The Department of Industry, Energy, Science and Resources’ statistics on household solar installations identify that Australia has the highest uptake of solar globally at approximately 30%1. The Ipsos Climate Change Report 2022 figures align showing 34% of Australians have installed solar.

Australians are also active in improving energy efficiency around the home (36%) and considering products being purchased with respect to how they are made, materials and end-of-life disposal (35%).

The next wave of action by Australians will be: 

  • a greater transition to renewable energy sources for household energy (35% current consideration),
  • and greater active selection of ‘green’ products and services. In 2022, this study saw a significant increase in Australians actively choosing banking, investment, and superannuation companies, products and services based on their environmental credentials and products (up to 16% from 10% in 2021).
  • The is also an increase in consideration of participating in protests and rallies about climate change (up from 12% consideration to being considered by 18% of Australians).

                                     o    Victorians are the most positive about the influence of protests and rallies on outcomes with 52% agreeing that ‘climate activism such as protests and rallies on climate change can bring about positive change’. Queenslanders and Western Australians are the least in agreement about the potential outcomes of climate activism (31% and 30% agreement respectively).

About the study 

At least 1000 interviews were conducted via online panel between for each wave of the research among Australian adults aged 18+. Data is weighted to match the profile of the Australian population. 

The precision of Ipsos online polls is calculated using a credibility interval with a poll of 1,000 accurate to +/-3.5 percentage points and of 500 accurate to +/- 5.0 percentage points.

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