The issues of climate change and carbon pricing have been caught in a purgatorial pinball game over the past 12 months. No wonder there is confusion, doubt and general misunderstanding on climate change among the populace considering the political battle lines drawn between parties in state houses, parliament buildings and capitols worldwide. But a recent study put forth by The Climate Institute, titled Climate of the Nation 2013: Australian attitudes on climate change, seeks to elevate the dialogue. The authors of the report actually talked to people to get their views on climate change. They asked questions, they listened and they documented the responses. Perhaps politicians could add that tactic to their constituent playbook.
Highlights from the report include:
- Two-thirds of Australians think that climate change is occurring and almost all of them believe that it is impacting Australia now. People are genuinely worried about the cost impacts of climate change on crop production and food supply, insurance premiums, water shortages and climate refugees.
- More people want to give carbon pricing a go than get rid of it. And, more Australians want greater action and leadership than in recent years.
- Results from the focus groups and poll behind Climate of the Nation 2013 indicate acceptance that climate change is happening and that humans are contributing to it. Twice as many trust the science than don’t.
Give the report a look; it’s a quick read and the information is presented in a way that connects with people. The authors did a great job because they took a deeper look by diving into demographics – age, gender, and dwelling location to give a realistic snapshot of the population’s views on climate change.
Speaking of the views of a population and whether politicians comprehend those views, The BBC put out this headline on 15 July: Australia PM Rudd sets out carbon tax shift cost.
The Australian government says its plan to scrap an unpopular carbon tax will cost A$3.8bn ($3.5bn; £2.3bn).
I wonder whom Kevin Rudd spoke with before deciding to take such action. Did he speak with the people? Could their views have changed over the course of the past year?
The carbon tax, introduced in a somewhat controversial about face on the part of then Prime Minister Julia Gillard in 2012 did leave Australian businesses and families shaking their heads. But Australians place a high importance on the environment and their quality of life. Understanding that Australia is the worst polluter per capita in the developed world is something that most Australians, I think would want to see change. Expecting the worst-polluting firms to pay a tax on each tonne of greenhouse gases they emit is not unreasonable. However, the way the carbon tax policy was structured in Australia by including subsidies was a lose-lose, except of course for the corporations doing the polluting. Based on the information from the survey and work The Climate Institute put forward, perhaps politicians will consider “re-tooling” the carbon tax. The elections are due to take place in September. It will be an interesting to see which party comes out on top and the course of action the government takes on carbon emissions.
The Climate Institute is an independent research organization with offices in Sydney and Melbourne. Their vision is for a “resilient Australia, prospering in a zero-carbon global economy, participating fully and fairly in international climate change solutions.“ That’s a vision the international community can embrace.