If 80% of Australians Care About Climate Action, Why Don’t they Vote Like It?

If 80% of Australians Care About Climate Action, Why Don’t they Vote Like It?

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Poll after ballot suggests a large majority of Australians care about local weather change. Yet in current federal elections, this hasn’t translated into wins for events with stronger coverage platforms on local weather change.

So what determines somebody’s local weather change perspective, and the way does it translate into voting?

In research published today, we studied 2,033 Australian voters’ attitudes throughout the political spectrum within the context of the 2019 federal election. And we discovered over 80% mentioned they suppose it’s necessary Australia scale back greenhouse gasoline emissions. This contains near 70% of conservative voters (these voting for Coalition events).

However, digging deeper reveals nuance to those attitudes. While most Australians assist local weather motion, stark variations emerge alongside political get together preferences when it comes to how necessary voters suppose it’s.

Our analysis suggests the query about social assist for local weather motion in Australia is now not: “does local weather change matter to sufficient Australians?”. Instead, the vital query might be: “does local weather change matter sufficient to Australians to shift local weather politics?”.

Why the ‘local weather election’ didn’t pan out

We performed our survey in July 2019, two months after the Coalition gained the federal election. Its victory got here as a shock to many, because the election was sometimes billed the “local weather election”, implying local weather change was a bellwether situation.

The local weather insurance policies of the 2 main events have been night time and day, with the Labor Party campaigning on formidable mitigation targets and the incumbent Coalition sustaining the established order of very limited climate policy.

So what have been the voters considering?

We discovered about half of Australian voters (52%) mentioned local weather change was necessary when deciding their vote within the 2019 Australian federal election. However, local weather was probably the most necessary situation for under 14% of voters.

Even amongst those that mentioned they felt it was extraordinarily necessary for Australia to cut back greenhouse gasoline emissions, most (58%) mentioned local weather change was necessary, however not a very powerful situation, when deciding their vote.

Climate change was acknowledged as a very powerful situation for 21% of Labor voters and 39% of Greens voters, however for lower than 5% of Liberal Party, National Party, and Queensland LNP voters.

This sample was reversed for many who didn’t take local weather change coverage into consideration of their vote: 26% of Liberal, 21% of National, and 31% of Queensland LNP voters didn’t contemplate local weather change when deciding their vote. Under 15% of Labor and Greens voters did the identical.

And once we checked out how a lot voters cared about local weather motion, the variations turn into stronger. Three quarters (73%) of progressive voters (these voting for the ALP or the Greens) see Australian motion to cut back emissions as “extraordinarily necessary”. Only one quarter (26%) of conservative voters say the identical factor.


Who’s extra keen to make sacrifices for the local weather?

Our analysis additionally explored the extent voters have been keen to simply accept a private value to assist local weather motion. We requested about their willingness to simply accept a major or small private value, however didn’t specify what we meant by small or important, as a result of a small value to at least one individual could also be a major value to a different.

Most voters (72%) mentioned they’d be keen to incur some private value in return for emissions reductions. Across the political spectrum, the proportion of voters keen to simply accept a small private value is comparatively comparable: 60% of progressive voters, 55% of conservative voters.


Major variations emerge with regards to “important private value”.

While 26% of progressive voters are keen to incur a major private value, solely 5% of conservative voters really feel equally. At the opposite finish of the spectrum, 40% of conservative voters are unwilling to incur any private value, however solely 14% of progressive voters really feel the identical.

Support for robust local weather insurance policies could rely upon whether or not the insurance policies will, or are perceived to, personally impression voters. Given political leaders’ stances affect public assist for local weather insurance policies (as 2018 research showed), our analysis highlights a possibility for conservative political leaders to clarify their position on climate change.


Interestingly, age was a constant predictor of responses. Younger folks have been extra doubtless than older folks to think about it necessary that Australia scale back greenhouse gasoline emissions. Younger folks have been extra keen to incur a private value to assist local weather motion, and to think about local weather change when deciding their vote.

In reality, we discovered an Australian voter from the Baby Boomer technology is half as doubtless as a voter from Generation Z to think about it necessary to cut back greenhouse gasoline emissions.

Divisive politics have a restricted shelf life

If future younger folks cared simply as a lot about local weather change as at this time’s younger folks, and if present cohorts don’t change their views as they age, then the proportion of Australian voters who contemplate greenhouse gasoline emissions to be “extraordinarily necessary” is prone to enhance from 52% in our 2019 knowledge, to 56% by 2030. By 2050, this determine may rise to 65%.


These projections are purely on the premise of extra climate-aware cohorts coming into voting age and changing older voters. It doesn’t contemplate any future adjustments in attitudes inside cohorts (which can additionally make an enormous distinction).

The key implication is easy. If Australian political leaders pursued stronger local weather motion, they may relaxation assured many of the voting inhabitants will broadly assist them, together with most of their very own voter base — no matter which get together is in energy.

This will turn into solely extra pronounced with gradual generational change, and sure adjustments in attitudes inside age teams. In any case, it’s clear divisive politics that end in local weather delay have a restricted shelf life.

This article is republished from The Conversation underneath a Creative Commons license. Author: Rebecca Colvin, Senior lecturer, Crawford School of Public Policy, Australian National University and Frank Jotzo, Director, Centre for Climate and Energy Policy, Australian National University.

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Cover picture by Mitchell Luo.

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