Action on pollution and climate change will reap rewards Media Release

Jun 28, 2010 - 10:00am

A new survey has found Australians overwhelmingly believe pollution is at unacceptable levels and is making the problem of climate change worse.  
The survey also finds stronger action on pollution and climate change would gain significant support from soft voters (uncertain about their vote) and those who see themselves as “under financial pressure”.

Details of the national survey of 1,000 Australians conducted between 9th and 10th June by Auspoll were released today by The Climate Institute, GetUp, ACTU and the Australian Conservation Foundation*.

“When asked if pollution is currently at an acceptable level, by the critical measure of whether they believe it to be safe for our children, less than nine per cent said they believe it is,” The Climate Institute CEO John Connor said.

“More than eighty per cent of those polled believe pollution is making climate change worse.

“These results are dramatic and the message is crystal clear to all parties – you need a credible plan to reduce Australia’s pollution and tackle climate change,” Mr Connor said.

“Forty per cent said the Government’s decision to shelve the CPRS until at least 2013 had made them more concerned about climate change.

“The survey showed, however, the renewed political potency of action on pollution and climate change.

“Thirty-six per cent said if the Labor Government took stronger action on pollution and climate change before the election it would make them more likely to vote for them.

The survey results show the public has lost confidence in either major party being able or willing to handle the problem – just nineteen per cent thought Labor was better at handling climate change and only fifteen per cent thought the Coalition was better. Both these figures have dropped significantly since an earlier survey in late March.

"More than sixty five per cent think both parties are the same on this issue,” Mr Connor said.

“In March that figure was fifty five per cent, in February last year it was only thirty seven per cent.”

Auspoll CEO Ross Neilson said the strength of many of the survey results was startling.  

“As the election looms what is particularly interesting is that when we segment these responses we find very high levels of concern among soft or uncommitted voters, suggesting many are still there to be won back,” Mr Neilson said.

“Currently more than 80 per cent of soft voters say both parties are the same on dealing with this problem.

“Also, somewhat surprisingly, voters who classified themselves as ‘under financial pressure’ showed just as strong levels of concern about the problem and expressed being even more concerned that action has been delayed.

“More of these voters than the overall average proportion would vote Labor if the Government comes up with a credible plan before the Federal election.

“This runs against what seems to be the received wisdom that people worried about the cost of living have been the most vulnerable to scare campaigns about rising energy costs,” Mr Neilson said.

“The time to make the shift from our pollution dependent economy is now, we need detailed plans from all parties that halt Australia’s rising pollution in the next three years, make business take responsibility for their pollution and make clean energy cheaper,” Mr Connor said.  

*Research conducted with these organisations and others including Brotherhood of St Laurence and Greenpeace.

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