Australians want clean energy & climate action, yet fossils fight renewables

Intro

Australians are increasingly and overwhelmingly supportive of climate action and renewable energy, and are deeply unhappy with the Abbott Government’s performance on both, according to the latest Climate of the Nation survey from the Climate Institute. The study has found 70 per cent of 1,145 Australians accept the science of climate change, 89 per cent said the impacts are already visible in Australia, and more people (34 per cent) back carbon pricing than oppose it (22 per cent). It notes a further 72 per cent of Australians want to keep or expand the Renewable Energy Target (RET).

The survey is yet another blow to the Government’s so-called “mandate” to repeal the carbon pricing laws, as well as its misguided attacks on renewable energy – which are enabling dirty industries to fight dirty to protect profits. A new report from Greenpeace, also released today, says Australia’s biggest three energy retailers – Origin, EnergyAustralia and AGL – are attacking the RET as it threatens the profitability of their fossil-fuel heavy businesses.

Australia is not only being “selfish” in its failure to cooperatively address climate change, but it is failing to see it for what it is: the “new housing bubble”. US Republican Hank Paulson says the same mistakes are being made with climate change now that were made in the lead up to the 2008 financial crisis, and domestic commentators agree that Australia’s backward steps do nothing but increase these risks. The insurance industry gets that climate risks cannot go unchecked, as does the rest of the world by large. If Australian dinosaurs do not evolve, they are likely to find themselves increasingly isolated.

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Key Points

  • The truth is getting almost as repetitive as Tony Abbott’s slogans: Australians understand the science, they want real action on climate change, and they overwhelmingly support the Renewable Energy Target. Australians are deeply unhappy with the Abbott Government’s actions on climate change, with 89 per cent of people saying the impacts are already visible in Australia, and 61 per cent wanting Australia to be a leader in climate solutions. Public opinion on the Abbott Government’s performance on climate action clocks in at a net negative -18 rating according to the Climate Institute.
  • With more Australians backing carbon pricing than opposing it, the Abbott government’s so-called “mandate” to “axe the tax” is in tatters. The current carbon pricing laws are working to reduce emissions, they are not hurting the economy, and the “scare campaign” by the Coalition and its supporters about its impact has proven baseless, according to former Liberal Party leader John Hewson, who says “it is quite clear now that these laws are not a ‘wrecking ball’ or ‘python squeeze’.”

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Key quotes

  • “More Australians think that climate change is occurring and are concerned about various physical impacts, present and future, with an overwhelming majority agree that tackling climate change can create opportunities for new jobs and investment. For the first time more support carbon pricing than oppose it but there is still uncertainty about its benefits and its operation, while only around one in five Australians thinks that the Government’s alternative is credible.” CEO of The Climate Institute, John Connor.
  • “From 2010 to 2012, Australians were subject to a historic scare campaign about the impacts of the carbon laws, but it is quite clear now that these laws are not a ‘wrecking ball’ or ‘python squeeze’. Since the carbon laws were enacted, Australia’s pollution has been reduced by millions of tonnes and the economy has grown. Average households are not worse off as many feared they could be.” Former Liberal Party Leader Dr John Hewson.
  • “Australians have got this right. If you accept the basics of climate change, we can’t burn all our coal and gas – the lasting economic opportunities of the 21st century will be in renewable energy. Politicians of all colours should be wary of those betting all on coal and gas.” CEO of the Climate Institute, John Connor.
  • “I can’t imagine Joe hockey driving past a dirty old coal-fired power station and thinking that’s a good look, with the guts spewing out into the air and polluting the atmosphere and not recognising the broader damage they do. I suggest he drives by a couple of those old ones and has a bit of a smell and a bit of a look and come back and say this is pretty good. He may not personally like the look of [wind turbines] but it’s bigger than him, this issue, it’s bigger than any generation of politicians today.” Former Liberal Party Leader Dr John Hewson.
  • “Only a price on carbon will start allocating capital to the right places where we should be investing in the new Australian economy. The question is: do we want a first rate industrial economy, or do we want an economy with a brown fat underbelly. Do we want to get  into the new age with the new industries, or do we stay in the old ones talking as Tony Abbott’s talking about industries that were important 100 years ago?” Former Prime Minister Paul Keating.
  • “While Australians are hungry for clean solar and wind power, the top three energy retailers are working to hold back the nation’s transition to a renewable energy future by undermining one of our most successful bipartisan policies ever. Origin, EnergyAustralia and AGL are expanding investment in coal and gas, exposing themselves to competition from renewable projects. These companies, some of the largest Australian polluters, are publicly attacking the target and actively frustrating wind and solar projects.” Greenpeace Head of Program Ben Pearson.

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More tweets

  • MT @senatormilne: .@TonyAbbottMHR dumping carbon pricing will expose Aus to big economic & trade risk & see infrastructure capital bypass us
  • RT @FifthEstateAU: @climateinstitut poll shows tide is growing for climate action. 61 per cent, up 9 points from 2012 http://t.co/MqDEWbjw3T
  • MT @AYCC: Hey @TonyAbbottMHR, 100,000 young Australians just put this up in your electorate! #aimhigher on #Climate http://t.co/162nWFt4Uk
  • MT @andwcampbell: The Dirty Three @originenergy @aglenergy & @EnergyAustralia trash #RET to protect profits #Dirty3 http://t.co/AgNGXOmeVA