As media reports of today’s release of the annual Lowy Institute opinion survey noted, the masses may want climate change stopped as a general principle, but there isn’t much that they are prepared to personally do about it. They may not deny the reality of climate change, but they do deny any seriously responsibility for it.
When asked how much they were prepared to pay extra on their monthly electricity bill to help solve climate change, a fifth of Lowy’s respondents wouldn’t pay anything, 32% would pay $10 or less, 20% would pay $11 to $20, and just 19% would pay $21 or more. Those refusing to pay anything is down on the 28% in marginal seats last November according to a Climate Institute survey, but perhaps if the mortgage-belt nature of many marginals were taken into account there would be no real difference between the polls.
Perhaps the more interesting aspect of Lowy’s survey was that climate change had slipped as a foreign policy goal from 75% rating it as very important last year to 66% this year, though global warming as a critical threat to Australia’s interests is more stable at 66% also, down only 2% on the year.
Economic issues seem to be driving this change, with the biggest increase in foreign policy goals being ‘strengthening the Australian economy’, up from 60% to 70%. But given that respondents could if they wanted class every issue as ‘very important’ the drop in ‘tackling climate change’ seems significant.
Perhaps the public is getting bored of the daily prediction of disaster. I may have missed later ads in the government’s climate change advertising campaign (I spent most of the month in Japan), but what I saw before I left was just repeating the same old messages any non-comatose person has already heard hundreds of times before. Something different has to be said to regain attention, such as how much all this is really going to cost Australian consumers.