A Monash University survey has found 59 per cent of the population believes climate change should be a high or very high priority for the prime minister and parliament, including almost half of Coalition voters.
More than 3000 Australians were surveyed by the Monash Climate Change Communication Research Hub earlier this year to understand their knowledge, attitudes, beliefs and behaviours regarding climate change and its impacts and solutions – particularly in the context of their political views and likely votes in the upcoming federal election.
Half of Coalition voters believe Australia needs to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions irrespective of what other countries do, with this figure rising to 62 per cent across all voters.
Monash researchers also found that 71 per cent of voters are in favour of environmental laws that force companies to curb their emissions and pollution, including 70 per cent of Coalition voters.
The survey revealed that while the majority of voters believe climate change is a high priority, there was a lack of understanding of key terms and technology used to combat climate change.
Less than half of Australians (44 per cent) understood what the terms renewable energy and net zero mean, and just 42 per cent understood carbon farming.
Just under a third of Coalition voters believe Australia’s net zero target should be brought forward from 2050 to 2030, with this support existing irrespective of whether or not people correctly understood what the term net zero means.
“People’s understanding of key technology does not reflect their perceptions of the importance of these technologies for addressing climate change, but without that understanding it’s difficult for people to work out how effective different policies will be and which they want to support,” said lead researcher Dr Lucy Richardson.
“For example, green hydrogen was seen as very to extremely important by 45 per cent of people, but only a quarter of respondents correctly understood what the technology is.
“This suggests that irrespective of political alignment and levels of understanding of the complexities of climate change and its technological solutions, a majority of voters are heading to the polls wanting stronger climate policies.”