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Three-Quarters Of Australians Are Now Worried About Climate Change

More Australians are turning towards renewables and believe climate change needs to be addressed.

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A report released this week by the progressive think tank Australia Institute has found 76% of Australians are now concerned about climate change, a 7% increase from polling conducted in 2017.

The polling took place in June of this year and surveyed over 1,700 Australians aged 18 and above.

The survey recorded participants' agreement with statements such as "Ignoring climate change is simply not an answer, as it increases the risk of the situation getting worse" and "I trust the science that suggests the climate is changing due to human activities".

The belief in climate change has increased steadily over the past six years, with only 64% of Australians believing that it was occurring in 2012.

Now only 11% of Australians believe that climate change isn't real (with another 13% reporting that they're unsure).

The most pressing climate change concerns for most Australians are droughts, floods affecting crop production, food supply, destruction of the Great Barrier Reef and bushfires.

The majority of Australians also now believe in transitioning away from coal-based energy within the next two decades towards solar power (67%).

Richie Merzian, climate and energy program director of the Australia Institute, told BuzzFeed News that this represents a resurgence in climate change interest after a 10-year lull.

"We had a real high point in terms of climate change interest in 2007 and 2008 with Kevin '07 and all that, the heady days of climate action, and now we're seeing a rise in that once again and I think that comes down to visible impacts of climate change."

Emeritus professor Warren Yates, a solar power researcher from the University of Technology Sydney, agrees that the public is becoming increasingly aware that the predictions of climate scientists are now coming true.

Yates told BuzzFeed News he believes that Australians are starting to notice an increasing and more intense pattern of bushfires, storms and droughts, and are becoming more savvy about where Australia's energy policy needs to go.

"Scott Morrison is really painting himself into a terrible corner, he's going around saying he's going to be the prime minister who helps the farmers with the drought, but obviously everyone in Australia knows that the best way to long-term protect farmers is to take action on climate change," said Yates.

Scott Morrison told Fairfax last week that Australia would stand by the pledge of the Paris Agreement, but that there were no plans to adjust that target in the near future.

Merzian believes that the divide between the government's stance on climate change policy and public opinion is widening.

"It's quite a marked difference to see a prime minister who basically accused people of having 'coalophobia' and the number of people we're seeing who are in favour of transitioning away from coal."

Contact Elfy Scott at elfy.scott@buzzfeed.com.

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