Australians want government to focus on renewables even if it costs more: poll
15 Jun 2017
by Georgia Castricum
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Lowy Institute polling also finds 57% of people consider climate change to be a ‘critical threat’
The vast majority of Australians want the government to focus on renewable energy, even if that means more money needs to be spent on making the system reliable, according to polling by the Lowy Institute.
Of 1,200 adults polled in March, 81% agreed with the statement: “The government should focus on renewables, even if this means we may need to invest more in infrastructure to make the system more reliable.”
Only 17% thought the government should focus on coal and gas.
The polling also revealed climate change was considered a “critical threat” by the majority of Australians – 57% – with only “international terrorism” worrying more people.
“Even in the midst of heated debate and government rhetoric about the need for energy security following recent energy blackouts, Australians emphatically choose renewables over coal and gas,” said Alex Oliver, director of the Lowy Institute’s polling program.
The high level of concern about the threat climate change poses appeared to represent a return to levels close to that seen a decade ago. In 2008, 66% of people said climate change was a “critical threat”, but that number dropped to just 46% in 2014.
In 2016, the Lowy Institute found 88% of respondents thought fossil fuels were in decline around the world, and that “Australia should invest more in alternative energy sources or risk being left behind”.
The chief scientist, Alan Finkel, is due to hand his review of the National Electricity Market to Coag on Friday, which will make a number of recommendations for how to lower the greenhouse gas emissions from the electricity sector.
The Coalition government has been pushing a “technology-neutral” approach to emissions reductions, by which they mean one that allows coal and gas to be part of the energy mix.
The Coalition has ruled out accepting a recommendation for an emissions intensity scheme, despite it gaining widespread support from industry and environment groups.