Last March, then Treasurer Scott Morrison brandished a lump of coal in Parliament (a gift from the coal lobby group the Minerals Council of Australia) shouting, “this is coal; don’t be afraid, don’t be scared, it won’t hurt you.”
The trouble for our new Prime Minister is that cheap stunts like that on behalf of the coal lobby puts him seriously out of step with community sentiment about climate change.
The Australia Institute’s 2018 Climate of the Nation polling shows that nearly three quarters (73%) of Australians are concerned about climate change, up from two thirds (66%) in last year’s poll.
More than three quarters (76%) of Australians think climate change is happening right now. And unlike the Prime Minister – who wants to leave any discussion of climate change’s role in the drought ‘for another day’ – more than seven out of ten (72%) Australians agree that ignoring climate change is not an answer, and doing so only increases the risk of it getting worse.
Australians also increasingly understand that coal-fired power is a climate-wrecker, and support renewable energy as a clean alternative energy solution: 70% of people surveyed agree the Government needs a plan for the orderly closure of old coal-burning power stations to be replaced with clean energy generation. More than two thirds (67%) of Australians want to end coal-fired power within the next 20 years.
This polling shows how far the Australian community has come in understanding the seriousness of climate change. The community is way out in front of our politicians. In fact, it’s truer to say that on climate change, the politicians are lagging way behind the communities they are elected to represent. It’s well past time they caught up.