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Climate Changing For Real – The Public

  • June 5th, 2011
  • Posted by EUEditor

crowd-flickr.jpgOpinion polls of the last week have shown up public conviction in Australia that changing climate is a reality to be tackled, making  much debate about it somewhat academic.

The statistics reflect a similar state of opinion in Europe, though not so in the United States.


A Griffith University poll sampling  3,000 Australians, published 3.6.11, found 74%  believed climate of the world was changing, with 90% of those attributing it at least in part to human activities – with 6% nay-sayers or “climate sceptics”.

(Concerns exist about a certain Flat Earth mentality among the nay-sayers; the Australian National University has upgraded security conditions for its climate change scientists, saying that monitoring of their public statements, followed by harrassment including death threats, has recently increased).

As to whether the high level of public concern about climate would be matched by willingness to support actions that might cost people money, a second poll, commissioned by the Green Party, did show support for strong government action.

Results in the poll, on carbon dioxide production and global warming linked to climate change, had 58% saying the best way to reduce carbon emissions was to tax “big polluters”.

Another 17% favoured the option of giving a subsidy to industry, to cut back.

On the proposed national carbon tax, to set values for carbon over a three year period, leading in to emissions trading: 66% supported a price on carbon that taxed major polluting industries, and use of the money to compensate households and businesses that had the charge passed on to them. 84% of Australians in the poll said fossil fuel subsidies should be redirected to renewable energy research and development.


Environmentalist sentiment has long been strong among the public in the European Union; witness also the recent upsurge of feeling against nuclear energy in Germany, willing the eventual decision, last month, to shut it down. See EUAustralia Online: “German nuclear decision”, 31.5.11; “New nuclear safety regime for Europe?”, 22.3.11.

An EU Eurobarometer survey at the end of 2009 determined an overwhelming majority, close to 90%,  considered climate change a serious problem, and wanted more action against global warming.

Almost two-thirds said the seriousness of the problem had not been exaggerated, rating it second in importance after poverty.

A report published by the Euractiv service contrasted that with information from polling in the United States, e.g. from Pew Research, showing a shift in thinking away from strong concern about the atmosphere and climate.

The European results were consistent with earlier levels of opinion, in September 2008, as the EU was bedding-down its “20-20” objective (20% reduction of carbon emissions by 2020), and embarking on its carbon trading scheme.

A Eurobarometer survey at that time also rated climate change the chief threat, after poverty.

It found a majority believed that governments, industry and members of the public themselves, were not taking enough action to deal with it.

Just over 60% of the 30000 respondents, in 30 European countries,  said they had started acting. For example 28% had opted to change over to public transport or “green” transport (maybe walking or cycling); a similar percentage reported they looked to buy products that reduced CO2.


European Parliament, “Climate change poll reveals 61% have taken action”, 15.9.08., (4.6.11)., Brussels, “EU, US citizens split over climate change”, 3.12.09., (4.6.11).

Senator Bob Brown, The Greens, Canberra, “Cut Pollution – Make Clean Energy Cheaper”, 2.6.11.

Radio Australia, Melbourne, “Majority of Australians believe climate change real”, 3.6.11., (4.6.11).

Picture   flickr