Friday 6th December 2019
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Studies show Australian, American concern about climate change

Two separate studies in Australia and the United States of America have shown an increasing concern over climate change and related environmental issues by the populace.

Harvey
Hurricane Harvey, which hit Texas and other places in 2017, is regarded as the costliest tropical cyclone on record with damages valued at $125 billion. Houston-area voters fear a recurrence

In Australia, the annual Climate of the Nation benchmark report produced by The Australia Institute and recently released its second report. The Climate of the Nation reports have tracked Australian attitudes on climate change for over a decade.

The 2019 Climate of the Nation report finds that eight in 10 (81%) of Australians are concerned that climate change will result in more droughts and flooding, up from 78% in 2018.

The study also shows that majority of Australians (68%) agree that the Government should plan for an orderly phase-out of coal so that workers and communities can be prepared.

Fifty-four percent of Australians however reject the idea that Australia should not act on climate change until other major emitters like US and China do so (only 25% think we should not act).

While almost two-thirds of Australians (64%) think the country should have a national target for net-zero emissions by 2050, similar to the UK, most of them nonetheless blame increasing electricity prices on the excessive profit margins of electricity companies (57%, up from 55%) or the privatisation of electricity infrastructure (55%, up from 52%).

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In the US, a new poll conducted by the Centre for Climate Change Communication at the George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, in partnership with Yale and Climate Nexus finds that Texas voters support a broad array of policies to address climate impacts and shift the state from fossil fuels to renewable energy. They want their elected officials to support those policies as well.

The poll was conducted as Democratic presidential candidates head to Houston, Texas for the next debate on Thursday, September 12, 2019.

Despite the state’s roots in the fossil fuel industry, most Texans support policies to accelerate the transition to clean, renewable energy, the report of the study showed. Two-thirds (67%) of Texas voters say developing more renewable energy sources should be the most important priority for addressing Texas’s energy needs, significantly more than those who say building more natural gas (12%) or nuclear (7%) power plants should be the top priority.

Additionally, seven in 10 (70%) Texas voters support a 100% renewable energy portfolio standard (RPS) in Texas, including nearly four in 10 (38%) who strongly support such a policy. Majorities of Texas voters believe a 100% RPS in Texas will benefit the state’s environment (76%), bring down electricity costs (64%), improve the economy (62%), and have a positive impact on rural and farming communities (60%).

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Furthermore, nearly two-thirds (65%) of Texas voters support government action to address climate change, including more than one-third (36%) who strongly support it.

Majorities are also more likely to support candidates who are in favour of specific policies to address climate change, such as extending government funding for renewable energy (74%), establishing a national renewable portfolio standard requiring 100% of electricity to be generated from renewable sources by 2050 (66%), setting stronger fuel efficiency standards for vehicles (66%), and requiring fossil fuel companies to pay a tax on their carbon pollution (64%).

Not only do Texans support climate action, but Democrats in the state say it will be key to their presidential vote. When asked to identify the two most important issues to their vote for president in 2020, Texas Democratic voters identify health care (36%), gun policy (29%), climate change (21%), and the economy and jobs (21%). The heightened importance of gun policy reflects the survey’s proximity to the August 3 mass shooting in El Paso, which dominated headlines in Texas and nationwide throughout the month. Eleven percent of voters overall in the state say climate change is one of the two most important issues to their vote for president in 2020.

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Finally, the poll finds that many Texans have been affected by extreme weather. Seven in 10 (70%) Houston-area voters, compared to roughly half (48%) of Texas voters overall, say their local area has been impacted by flooding in the last year.

Those in the Houston region are also more likely than Texans overall to say they or someone in their family has experienced anxiety about extreme weather (46% in Houston vs. 35% in Texas overall), had to take a break from work because of extreme weather (41% in Houston vs. 26% in Texas overall), or experienced property damage as a result of extreme weather (36% in Houston vs. 24% in Texas overall).

More than a quarter (28%) of Houston-area voters have had to leave their home temporarily or permanently as a result of extreme weather, and two-thirds (67%) are worried they will have to do so if Texas experiences another major hurricane.

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