71% say coal is on the way out – climate change poll

71 per cent of Australians agree that it is inevitable that Australia’s current coal fired generation will need to be replaced because of the threat of climate change, according to a poll.

The research, Climate of the Nation 2015 by the Climate Institute was released today ahead of the expected announcement this week on Australia’s post-2020 carbon pollution reduction target. The government will take the target to international climate negotiations in Paris later this year.

According to John Connor, CEO of The Climate Institute, the research also found that nearly two thirds of Australian believe that the ‘Abbott government should take climate change more seriously’.

“Despite a year which has seen renewable energy targets wound back, and attacks on wind power, support for both solar and wind in Australians’ preferred energy mix has grown,” Connor said.

“Most (84 per cent, up 2 points) prefer solar amongst their top three energy sources, followed by wind (69 per cent, up 5 points). Gas and nuclear both crashed 7 points to 21 and 13 per cent respectively, with nuclear and coal now tied as least preferred.”

“Support for regulating and limiting carbon pollution is very strong with two in three (67 per cent) agreeing governments need to regulate carbon pollution and only 9 per cent disagreeing.”

“The core element of the government’s ‘Direct Action’ plan, the taxpayer backed Emissions Reduction Fund, is unpopular with over three quarters (76 per cent) agreeing that policy should shift responsibility for pollution reduction to the polluters not taxpayers.”

Other findings of the research include:

  • 72 per cent of Australians agree that governments need a plan to ensure the orderly closure of old coal plants and their replacement with clean energy. Only 7 per cent disagree.
  • Two in three (65 per cent) Australians say that reducing the investment in wind farms and householder solar power is the opposite of what is needed. Overall 39 per cent strongly agree with this statement. Only 11 per cent disagree.
  • 69 per cent agree that ignoring climate change is simply not an answer, as it increases the risk of the situation getting worse, up 5 points from last year.
  • A large majority (70 per cent, same as last year but up from 64 per cent in 2012) think that climate change is occurring with 89 per cent (up 5 points) of those accepting humans are at least partly the cause.