Policies on renewables and the Great Barrier Reef will also influence the way people vote, according to Lonergan poll
Almost half of Australian voters say policies on climate change, renewable energy and the Great Barrier Reef will influence the way they vote at the next federal election, according to new polling shared exclusively with Guardian Australia.
The nationwide poll of 1,048 people over the weekend found 47% of people agreed or strongly agreed that “climate change and renewable energy will influence the way I vote at this year’s federal election”.
Similarly, 44% of respondents said they either agreed or strongly agreed that measures to protect the Great Barrier Reef would influence their vote – again, more than double the 20% who disagreed.
And voters appeared particularly concerned about the impact of the Carmichael coalmine, which will be the biggest in the country if it goes ahead. In all, 65% said they were quite worried, very worried or extremely worried about the impact the mine would have on climate change and the Great Barrier Reef. Only 15% said they were not worried at all and 20% were not aware of the plans.
“Today’s polling shows that, when voters go to the polls in the second half of the year, they’ll be concerned about climate change,” said Simon Sheikh, the founder and managing director of Future Super. “That should be an extraordinary wake-up call for the government.
“In the last few months the government has tried ignoring the issue of climate change. It has undermined the jobs of climate scientists at the CSIRO and thrown its support behind polluting projects like the Adani coalmine. Today’s polling reveals they are on the wrong side of every one of those issues.”
Sheikh said the number of people who were switching to Future Super, which is the only super fund in Australia that avoids all investments in fossil fuels, is further evidence for how much people care about the issue. He said the fund reached $130m under management, within 18 months of launching.
The Australian Conservation Foundation is fighting the federal government’s approval of Adani’s Carmichael coalmine in court, arguing the carbon emissions from the coal it produces will put the Great Barrier Reef at risk. It will create more annual emissions than New York City, according to calculations done last year.
“Any politician who wants to be taken seriously on climate change and Great Barrier Reef protection cannot support Adani’s proposal to dig the biggest coalmine in Australia’s history,” said Kelly O’Shanassy, the chief executive of the Australian Conservation Foundation.
“What’s clear from this polling is Australians care about the Great Barrier Reef, they are increasingly worried about the damage climate change is doing to it and they will use their votes in this year’s federal election to demand a better deal for the reef.
“Burning coal is warming the planet and warmer oceans are bleaching the reef. People can see the connection and they want better from their government.”
The Queensland parliament, with the support of both Labor and the Liberal-National party, recently passed a motion supporting Adani’s efforts to get the required regulatory approvals passed, Sheikh said.
“With 65% of Australians expressing their concerns over the impact the mine will have on our climate and on the Great Barrier Reef, both Labor and the Coalition appear to be on the wrong side of this issue,” he said.
The survey also asked respondents what they thought of the statement: “The federal government was right to cut jobs, including those of climate scientists at the CSIRO.” A total of 49% disagreed or strongly disagreed, with only 20% agreeing or strongly agreeing.
“With temperature records being smashed in 2014, 2015 and in the first two months of 2016, it’s little wonder that voters are deeply concerned about the issue once again,” Sheikh said.