Extreme weather drives demand for action on climate crisis

The Australia Institute (TAI) released its latest annual Climate of the Nation 2019 report on September 10. The annual report, first produced by the Climate Institute and for the past two years by TAI, has been tracking attitudes on climate change for more than a decade.

The report found extreme weather events are prompting more people to demand governmental action to tackle the climate emergency. It said:

• Young people, who are the most concerned about climate change (83%) are also leading the way when it comes to wanting action: two-thirds want coal-fired power to be closed and replaced with clean energy; 72% want no new coal mines; and a same number want targets and action to help limit global warming to 1.5–2°C and achieve zero emissions.

• Eight in ten (81%) are concerned that climate change will lead to more droughts and flooding, 76% believe it will result in more bushfires and 78% are worried it will lead to water shortages in cities;

• In Queensland, 73% believe coal-fired power stations should be phased out;

• A majority (68%) agree that the government should plan for a just transition away from coal to ensure workers and communities are properly supported;

* A majority (54%) reject the idea that Australia should wait for other major carbon emitting nations such as the United States and China before acting on climate change;

• Almost two-thirds (64%) support a national target for net-zero emissions by 2050; and

• Most people blame rising electricity prices on the excessive profit margins of electricity companies or privatisation of electricity infrastructure.

Independent MP Zali Steggall said: “Australians are rightly concerned about more extreme heat waves, droughts and bushfires and they want the [Scott] Morrison government to show leadership on climate change and do more to prepare for the impacts that are already locked in.”

TAI climate and energy director Richie Merzian added: “Australians are well aware of what is required, and see addressing climate change as a multi-partisan issue that ought to be above politics.

“Ahead of the UN Global Climate Summit in New York in September, the public want to see the Australian government take a leadership role when it comes to global action on climate change.”

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