Australians more Sceptical about Climate Change – but more receptive to alternative energy sources
Sydney, 21 October 2010.
Climate change is one of the key political and social issues of the modern era. In recent months, with rising energy prices and a changed political situation, climate change and what to do about it is very much back on the agenda in Australia. In the last month we have seen a new Minister for Climate Change, and we have revisited to the possibility of a Carbon Tax in Australia.
But there is very little information on what Australian householders understand about climate change and its effect on the environment, their household and their community. Connection Research today releases Residential Energy Management in Australia, a survey of more than 2,700 households. Some of the questions asked about attitudes towards climate change and the level of acceptance of various renewable and alternative energy sources. This information, combined with industry research on the energy sector, has uncovered a wealth of information about what Australians think about these issues.
Most Australians believe that climate change is real and are concerned about it, but the levels of concern are lower than those expressed in a similar survey conducted by Connection Research 18 months ago. Nearly 90% believe climate change is a problem to the planet, but the number who ‘strongly agree’ has declined from 53% to 45%. But there is a bigger change in their response to the statement that climate change is a problem to them and their families. Those who strongly agree declined from 27% to 19%, while the proportion of those who disagree rose from 11% to 14%.
“The survey findings show there is an increase in the scepticism towards global warming,” says Cassandra Phillips, co-author of the report and Sustainability Portfolio Manager at Connection Research. “But there is also an increased desire to do something about it, and an increase in the support for alternative renewable energy.
“People are unsure about the effects climate change will have on their family, and are less likely to strongly believe it is happening at all, but at the same time the survey results show they are more aware of higher energy costs and are more likely to support alternative sources of energy,” says Ms Phillips.
Detailed trend analysis of the Residential Energy Management in Australia report indicates that views on the existence or absence of climate change are not necessarily coupled with attitudes towards the desirability of energy conservation and sustainability. “This report clearly shows that considerations need to be made to differentiate between householder beliefs and household behaviour,” says Ms Phillips.
Most respondents believe that they and their household are doing an excellent job in conserving energy resources, but less than a third believe that their local community is doing enough. Even fewer think the state and federal governments are doing enough to conserve energy resources. “This indicates that much more could be done by government l to educate consumers about what the government is doing to conserve energy,” says Ms Phillips.
Support for alternative sources of energy is growing throughout Australia. The report clearly shows that solar power is the most supported alternative power source, followed closely by wind power. Education and awareness campaigns targeted to the household would help Australians develop a more conscientious approach to effective energy management and an overall reduction in the individual carbon footprint of each household.
Connection Research is an Australian market research and analysis company with a focus on corporate and consumer usage of sustainable and digital technologies. Its primary methodology is demand-side research, surveying consumers of technology about usage patterns, attitudes and plans. It operates across four practice areas: Green IT, Carbon and Compliance, Building Industry and Trades, and Community Sustainability.