Growing Alarm Over Climate Change As Aussies Want Business To Do More

Australians are becoming increasingly concerned about climate change, and overwhelmingly want businesses to do more to support renewables.

A new report has showed concern about climate change has doubled since 2018, while a Greenpeace poll found nearly 80 percent of Australians want companies to make the switch to renewable energy.

Researchers behind the Scanlon Foundation's latest Mapping Social Cohesion Report asked Australians to name their biggest concern. In the report, released Tuesday, 19 per cent nominated climate change as their main worry.

This was up from 10 per cent last year, and triple the figure found when the question was first asked in the 2011 report, run in conjunction with Monash University and the Australian Multicultural Foundation.

In 2019 the economy was the number one concern at 28 per cent, followed by climate change at 19, then social issues at eight per cent.

Aussies are concerned about climate change, and want action. Image: AAP

"The only other time where we've seen such a big jump was in 2015," Professor Andrew Markus said -- the year of Sydney's infamous Lindt cafe siege.

"In that year concern about terrorism and security went from one to 10. So this time we've gone from 10 to 19 (on climate) in one year. So I think that's quite significant."

Concern about the climate was highest amongst young adults, with 43 per cent of 18- to 24-year-olds naming it as their number one issue.

But it was lowest amongst 35- to 44-year-olds and over-75s at 12 per cent and eight per cent, respectively.

The survey of more than 3500 Australians was taken shortly after the federal election in May, following a heightened debate around environmental issues.

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It is only November and already New South Wales and Queensland are suffering from catastrophic bushfires, which fire and emergency services personnel themselves are describing as unprecedented.

It comes the same day as Greenpeace Australia released polling data showing nearly 80 percent of Aussies agreed that local companies should be using more renewable energy. Some 70 percent would like to see companies using 100 percent renewables.

“This poll clearly shows that the overwhelming majority of Australians want businesses and corporations to step up and take action on climate change,” said Lindsay Soutar, Senior Campaigner at Greenpeace Australia Pacific.

The poll, of 1602 people conducted by uComms on September 24, found 70 percent of people said they wanted to work for a company relying on renewable energy, while 66 percent said they'd be more likely to buy from a company using renewables than a company that doesn't.

Polling data found Australians would support businesses using more renewables. Image: Getty

“The biggest driver of climate change in Australia is coal, which is still burned to make a large amount of our electricity. As some of Australia’s biggest users of electricity, businesses and corporations have an obligation to clean up their act and make the move to 100 percent renewable energy,” Soutar said.

“With bushfires raging across the country, AGM season in full swing, and increasing pressure on big businesses to clean up their act in light of the climate crisis, this is an important point of reflection for executives and board members.”

“When it comes to climate change, companies can go from being a big part of the problem to being a big part of the solution. In Australia and overseas, many companies are already leading the way and proving that 100 percent renewable is 100 percent doable.”

Another report released Tuesday, Mission Australia's annual youth survey, found environment as the second most pressing issue for young people.

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Among those determined to do nothing about climate change, the arguments have shifted over time. 

More than 25,000 young people between the ages of 15 and 19 answered the annual survey, with mental health topping the list of most important issues. More than 36 percent of people named that as their top concern, with the environment at 34 percent, and equity and discrimination at 25.

The percentage of young people who said the environment was a key issue more than tripled from 9.2 per cent in 2018.

"The apparent inability to have their voices heard through formal channels is perhaps causing them to engage in informal ways to get heard, such as climate strikes," Mission Australia chief executive James Toomey said.

"The growing public dialogue and experience of issues, such as extreme weather events and drought, are clearly affecting young people's view of the world," he says.

With AAP.