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Climate change: Australians believe extreme weather events are already more frequent

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  • Renewable energy tops the list for action-
  • Federal Government responsible for tackling climate change

More than six in 10 Australians (62%) believe that climate change is already impacting our nation’s environment by causing more extreme droughts and extreme storm events, according to the Ipsos Climate Change Report*.

In addition, 61% of people believe that climate change is already causing more frequent and extreme bushfires. Two-thirds agree that climate change poses a serious threat to our way of life over the next 100 years.

Now in its seventh year, the Ipsos Climate Change Report reveals the findings of the annual climate change research conducted by the Ipsos Social Research Institute, which investigates what Australians think about the issue and what they believe are the priorities for action.

Renewable energy has topped the list of environmental priorities for action over the last five years, and does so again this wave with 56% of Australians identifying this as an issue to address. Four in ten (39%) identify climate change as an issue for action, behind water and river health (43%) and sustainability (41%).

Issues relating to water have dropped further from the public agenda, with the proportion of Australians identifying water wastage as a priority for action halving since 2007 (36% compared to 73% in 2007).

Almost six in ten Australians (59%) believe that greenhouse gas emissions from industry are a key contributor to climate change. This was followed by burning of fossil fuels (58%), deforestation (53%), motor vehicle emissions (48%) and greenhouse gas emissions from households (43%).

“Only 3% of Australians believe ‘there is no such thing as climate change’ and 4% are unsure about it, so we can say that vast majority of Australians believe that climate change is a real phenomenon. Of those who believe that climate change is happening, Australians are three times more likely to believe that climate change is caused mainly by human activity than by natural processes. The remainder, nearly half of the population, believe it’s caused by a mix of anthropogenic and natural processes” Ipsos Social Research Institute Research Manager Stuart Clark said.

“We have seen limited changes to the public’s understanding of the causes of climate change over the seven years of the study, a lot of which is to do with the conflicting opinions they hear in the media.”

Australians increasingly see action on climate change as the Federal Government’s responsibility. One in four Australians surveyed (41%) indicated that the Federal Government should be primarily responsible for taking action on climate change – up from 32% in 2010.

* Methodology: The Ipsos Climate Change Report survey was conducted online. In total 1,063 respondents were surveyed. Quotas were set on the age and gender of respondents, and post-weighted to ensure an exact match of the Australian population.