Zali Steggall calls for conscience vote on climate change legislation

The majority of Australians think the climate is already changing, and fear the impacts of severe weather events on food supply as a result, a new report shows.

Crossbench MP Zali Steggall in Parliament.

Crossbench MP Zali Steggall in Parliament. Source: AAP

Independent MP Zali Steggall has called for Labor and Liberal politicians to be given a conscience vote on climate change legislation after a new report revealed most Australians believe climate change is already occurring.

The latest Climate of the Nation report shows Australians are increasingly worried about the impacts of climate change, from



Nearly half of those surveyed fear more heatwaves, while slightly less (42 per cent) are concerned about more extreme weather such as flood and cyclones.

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who toppled former prime minister Tony Abbott at this year's election, officially launched the report in Canberra on Tuesday.

Crossbench MP Zali Steggall in Parliament.
Crossbench MP Zali Steggall in Parliament. Source: AAP


She called for politicians across the chamber to be given a conscience vote on legislation relating to climate change.

"This is not a left or right issue. This means that people of all political leanings are concerned with this issue, it transcends a political divide," Ms Steggall told reporters.  



Close to 2,000 Australians took part in the survey, with government population data used to ensure the sample reflected the spread of people across the nation.

The number of people who think climate change is occurring (77 per cent) matches the record-high rate from 2016, while 12 per cent don't believe it's happening and 11 per cent are unsure.

About two-thirds believe climate change is caused by humans.

Almost two-thirds support a national target of

An increasing number of Australians fear what impact climate change will have on our food and water supplies.
An increasing number of Australians fear what impact climate change will have on our food and water supplies. Source: ANP


Two-thirds of Australians also think coal-fired power should be phased out within the next 20 years, while 17 per cent believe it should always remain in the mix.

The national result mirrors that of those in Queensland, where most believe coal-fired power stations should be phased out (73 per cent) and 13 per cent don't think it needs to replaced as an energy source.

The annual survey has tracked the public's attitude towards climate change for more than a decade.

Left-leaning think tank The Australia Institute has conducted the survey for the past two years after being handed the reins from the Climate Institute when it closed.



The report shows a generational split on climate change, with Australians aged between 18 and 34 more concerned and supportive of action to reduce emissions.

The report's launch coincides with a climate protest planned outside Parliament House on Tuesday, ahead of global strikes on September 20.

Bushfires are already ravaging NSW and Queensland.

Natural Disaster Minister David Littleproud on Monday said the drought had "exacerbated" the fires, but he refused to be drawn on whether human-induced climate change was also to blame.

Natural Disaster Minister David Littleproud.
Natural Disaster Minister David Littleproud. Source: AAP


Labor MP Julian Hill said the "language of belief" was clouding the debate.

"It's a peculiar Australian disease that conservatives in this country have, in rejecting the science of climate change," he said.

The findings:

* Most are concerned about more droughts and flooding caused by climate change (81 per cent), slightly up from last year.

* The number of Australians who think climate change is already happening matches the record-high from 2016 (77 per cent) after dipping.

* Close to two-thirds think Australia should have a national target of net-zero emissions by 2050.

* A similar number think humans are responsible for climate change.

* Most Australians think climate change is causing more extreme weather events and hurting food supply.

* Most blame electricity companies and their profit margins for rising power bills.

* Solar power is Australia's favourite energy source for the fourth year running.

* Young adults are more concerned about climate change and more supportive of reducing emissions than older generations.

* About two-thirds want the federal government to stop building new coal mines.

Source: Climate of the Nation report 2019 (1960 Australians surveyed)


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Published 10 September 2019 at 6:36am