Australians overwhelmingly support taxpayer-funded investments in renewable energy and greater cuts in carbon emissions to combat climate change, a poll shows.
About 90 percent support federal grants for renewable energy technology and more than three-quarters (77 percent) support more ambitious reductions in emissions this decade, according to research from the Lowy Institute released Wednesday.
Since the government came to power in May, the Labor government has tightened Australia’s 2030 emissions reduction target and passed the coalition’s pledge of net zero by 2050.
Strategist Cheryl Durrant, former director of preparedness and mobilization at the Department of Defense, said more than half of those surveyed continue to view climate change as a “critical threat”.
It is critical that Australia catch up with other countries that are “far ahead” on decarbonisation, she said.
Australians remain divided over the issue of nuclear power, which has been banned in Australia since 1998.
Just over half (52 percent) support lifting the ban, up five points from 2021, and 59 percent support increasing the use of gas for Australian power generation.
Economist John Quiggin said that with current technology, nuclear power cannot compete with wind and solar energy with battery storage.
“Even if costs can be reduced using small reactor technology, expected around 2030, there is no serious possibility of deploying nuclear power in Australia before 2040,” said Professor Quiggan.
Climate Council research head Simon Bradshaw said building large-scale wind and solar projects is the cheapest way to produce electricity, even when combined with storage.
“It’s also low-risk, renewable and non-polluting,” he said.
Just under two-thirds (64 percent) would favor an emissions trading scheme or a carbon tax, unchanged from a year ago.
Labor wants to organize international climate talks to demonstrate Australia’s new stance on climate and energy transition, which three quarters (75 percent) of those polled would support.
According to its updated pledge, Australia aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 43 percent by 2030, compared to 2005 levels, which would be a 15 percentage point increase from the coalition’s target.
Australians also recognize that the Pacific neighbors are on the front lines of climate change and need help.
“An overwhelming majority of those polled supported disaster relief for the Pacific, and three-quarters want help for climate change in that part of the world,” said Ms Durrant.