Thursday 26 Nov 2020 | 01:21 | SYDNEY
Thursday 26 Nov 2020 | 01:21 | SYDNEY

Australian opinion leads on climate change


Fergus Hanson


10 December 2007 13:57

As Kevin Rudd enters climate talks in Bali, he would have to be happy with the latest poll from the Program on International Policy Attitudes. It shows Australians at the forefront of countries concerned about climate change and prepared to cough up to do something about it.

Of 19 countries surveyed, Australians were most concerned that ‘the way the world produces and uses energy is causing environmental problems, including climate change’. Only the French were more likely to agree with the statement: ‘Global warming is a serious and pressing problem. We should begin taking steps now even if this involves significant costs’.

Australians were also clear-headed that mitigating the effects of climate would have an impact on their hip pockets. No country, except China, was more likely to agree that it would be necessary to ‘increase the cost of the types of energy that most cause climate change, such as coal and oil, in order to encourage individuals and industry to use less’. We were also second only to the Chinese in supporting increased taxes on energy sources that contribute to climate change (in only nine of 21 countries did majorities or pluralities support tax increases). Furthermore, Australia was the only nation where a majority (59 per cent) strongly supported measures to require ‘auto makers to increase fuel efficiency, even if this means the price of cars would go up’.

This poll suggests Kevin Rudd has embarked on a dream trip to Bali. Unlike other world leaders he won’t need to do the hard sell when he comes home (at least with the general public). But there is a potentially painful corollary to that (as John Howard recently discovered). Australians could hardly be more adamant that they want to see action on climate change, now: Rudd will have to deliver.