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Australians Think Climate Change A More Critical Threat Than Terrorism

Australians now rank climate change as their top-ranked threat to the nation, a new report has found.

A majority of Australians (64 percent) see climate change as a 'critical threat', according to a new report by the Lowy Institute.

This percentage is an increase of six points from last year and a massive 18 points since 2014.

In fact, more Australians rank climate change a critical threat than they do foreign cyberattacks (62 percent), international terrorism (61 percent) and North Korea's nuclear program (60 percent).

It's the first time climate change has topped the list of threats since the Lowy Institute began asking the question, in 2006.

Greenpeace activists protesting against climate change unfurl a banner on the flagpoles outside Parliament House, September 10, 2018. Photo: AAP Image/Mick Tsikas

The 2,130 Australians surveyed were asked to choose one of three statements about climate change they most agreed with.

A majority of respondents (61 percent) agreed that "global warming is a serious and pressing problem [and] we should begin taking steps now even if this involves significant costs."

Photo: Lowy Institute

The number of people agreeing to the less concerning statement -- "The problem of global warming should be addressed, but its effects will be gradual so we can deal with the problem gradually by taking steps that are low in cost" -- fell three points to just 28 percent.

Just 10 percent of respondents agreed that "until we are sure that global warming is really a problem, we should not take any steps that would have economic costs’, which is the same as last year.

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Lucy Achhorner and Elena Palombi-Luff pose with protestors at a Sydney rally. Photo: AAP

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The change in numbers indicates attitudes towards climate change are shifting, as more Australians become concerned about the environment.

There's also a notable split in how different generations view climate change. Out of the 18-44 year age group -- which encompasses Gen Y, some of Gen X, and a little of Gen Z -- a majority 76 percent believed climate change was a critical threat.

However, just 49 percent of older Australians felt the same.

Students protest climate change. Photo: Getty Images

Labor has majority of the support (59 percent) of Australians who believe it would be better at managing Australian's response to climate change.

Although this marks the first time climate change has been ranked the biggest threat, it's not the peak of concern. More Australians (68 percent) were concerned about the climate in 2006 -- likely due to the country being in the midst of a 20-year drought.

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Concern about climate change dipped to a low of 36 percent in 2012, but has been steadily rising since.

The full results will be released by the Lowy Institute in June.