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A Record Number Of Aussies Agree Humans Are To Blame For Climate Change

"My fear is that the baton I’m handing over isn’t the baton I received 60 years ago."

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77% of Australians now accept climate change is happening and 90% of these people believe human activity is as least partly to blame, The Climate Institute's Climate of the Nation 2016 report has found.

The Climate Insitute / Via climateinstitute.org.au

The research, which surveyed more than 2000 Australians from around the country, found a majority of people trust the science behind climate change and want leaders to do more about it.

“I look at it like a relay race. I’m on my last stretch and I’m getting ready to hand over the baton to someone else," one 60-year-old focus group participant said.

"My fear is that the baton I’m handing over isn’t the baton I received 60 years

ago. Things have changed. We haven’t done a great deal to address it.”

The number of Australians who believe that the climate is changing due to human activities is up from 46% in 2012 to 60%.

More women are concerned about climate change than men, and more city residents think climate change is occurring than people living in regional areas.

Nearly two thirds of Australians now either agree or strongly agree with the statement, “I trust the science that suggests the climate is changing due to human activities”, while 10% are undecided.

At the same time, a third of people think Australia is currently experiencing "a lot" of impact of climate change through droughts, flooding, destruction of the Great Barrier Reef and bushfires.

Support for the science of climate change is highest among people aged 18 to 34 at 83%, but around three quarters or more of people in other generations agree.

One person aged over 55 from surveyed in Newcastle, NSW said they didn't subscribe to climate sceptics' scare tactics because the "science is in".

"The ones that are trying to scare us are the ones with a vested interest who aren’t looking to protect the planet. It’s a great pity. People have a vested interest in the status quo," they said.

The Climate Institute

A majority of people also said they want the government to do more.

Only 19% of people surveyed judged the federal government's performance on climate change as "fairly good" to "excellent".

“The federal government. As the leaders of the country, they should be proactive about encouraging everyone else and putting in place plans and actions," one young Melbournian said.

Parliament's Joint Standing Committee on Treaties is holding the first of two hearings on ratification of the Paris climate change agreement on Monday.

At the UN this week there has been a wave of ratification from other nations. The federal government has said it hopes to ratify this year.

“Australians conform. If the federal government takes action, people will follow," a person from Brisbane said.

"The Australian public’s desire for action on climate change, and solutions, is almost as strong as it was when we had bipartisan support for an emissions trading scheme back in 2008, recovering from the lows of 2012 which was the height of the scare campaign before carbon pricing began," The Climate Institute's CEO John Connor said.

Nearly two thirds of people surveyed want Australia to be a world leader in finding solutions to climate change, and 59% don't agree that we should wait for other major emitting countries (such as China and the US) before we take action.

67% believe the government should enact a serious policy plan to deliver the commitment made in Paris to achieving net zero emissions.

Three quarters think state and federal governments need to close down old coal plants and replace them with clean energy.

A majority of people surveyed (73%) thought investment in clean energy would lead to jobs and growth, with 75% believing the government needs to implement a plan to ensure the orderly closure of old coal plants and replace them with clean energy.

The top three choices for energy amongst Australians are solar (86%), wind (70%) and coal (3%).

"Australians generally want more clarity about what individuals and communities can do to help, with 68% of people thinking individuals and households should be contributing to action on climate change," Connor said.

Alice Workman is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Canberra.

Contact Alice Workman at alice.workman@buzzfeed.com.

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