The annual Ipsos Climate Change Report 2022 shows the majority – 83 per cent – of Australians are concerned about climate change and want clear government action. The survey also found that 70 per cent think Australia is already being affected by climate change, primarily with regard to more frequent and extreme natural disaster events.

Every year, Ipsos surveys Australians to understand changes in attitudes and sentiments relating to climate change and other environmental issues. With the federal election just around the corner, this year’s results showed that Australians believe the Federal Government has the most power to take action to address climate change.

The report found that 72 per cent of Australians consider the Federal Government to have a reasonable degree of power to influence climate change through decisions made. Yet, the perceived performance of all levels of the Australian government – and overseas governments – is considered relatively poor. This is in contrast to what not-for-profits, small and medium businesses, and individuals are doing.

Ipsos: Australians want more action on climate

The survey found that 68 per cent of Australians agree that climate change poses a serious threat to our way of life over the next 25 years. Correspondingly, two-thirds agreed that Australia should be doing more to address climate change. The same proportion wants the country to be a global leader in emissions reduction.

Currently, there is a divided opinion on whether current Federal Government measures to address climate change are sufficient. Of those asked, 44 per cent think they are currently ‘too little’, 30 per cent consider them ‘about right’ and 10 per cent consider the existing federal measures to be ‘too much’.

However, the survey uncovered clear voting intentions when it comes to climate change policy:

  • For one in five Australians, the environment is ‘the most important issue’ they will be considering when deciding who to vote for in the next election.
  • Three in five per cent of Australians either currently are, or will contemplate, taking policies addressing climate change into account when deciding a candidate or party to vote for.

“Awareness and expectations among Australians regarding our climate are growing. There is a concern among Australians and a desire for the government to act. Policy will be a key part of the people’s decision making coming into the election”, said Ipsos Public Affairs Director, Stuart Clark. “Australians see a role particularly for governments and large businesses to drive positive change utilising policy, improved technologies, and increased transparency.”

Businesses must do more

Australians focus predominantly on the role of multinationals and large Australian businesses for their ability to have positive impacts on climate change.

  • Sectors that are most considered to be able to have positive impacts are resources, mining, oil and gas (46 per cent) and energy (43 per cent). The transport and automotive sectors also scored high in terms of scope for impact, both with 31 per cent.
  • Australians perceive sectors such as fashion, retail trade and pharmaceuticals to be less likely to be able to influence climate change. This is despite global pushes focusing on the negative impacts of industries such as fast fashion.

Only 40 per cent of Australians think businesses in Australia are committed to climate change.

  • Two-thirds of Australians believe there should be a focus on helping businesses become leading innovators. This is particularly regarding renewables.
  • In addition, 60 per cent of Australians think that publicly listed companies should report on environmental performance.

Individuals are increasingly transitioning to greener habits

Australians also see individuals as having a role in addressing climate change. However, they perceive their actions may have less impact than government and business. Regardless, Australians are increasingly conscious of their own personal empowerment and the action they can take. For example:

  • There has been an increasing trend of acknowledging ‘it is my responsibility to help to do something about climate change’. This rose from 55 per cent agreement in 2017 to 67 per cent agreement in 2022.
  • There is also an increasing trend that ‘I personally feel that I can make a difference with regard to climate change’. This was up from 37 per cent in 2017 to 54 per cent in 2022.
  • 34 per cent of Australians have installed household solar insulations.
  • 36 per cent of Australians are also active in improving energy efficiency around the home.
  • When purchasing products, 35 per cent consider the manufacturing process, the materials used and end-of-life disposal.

Upcoming climate action from Australians include:

  • A greater transition to renewable energy sources for household energy — 35 per cent are currently considering this.
  • A greater active selection of ‘green’ products and services. This included actively choosing banking, investment, and pension companies, products and services based on their environmental credentials and products.
  • There is also an increase in consideration of participating in protests and rallies about climate change. Now, 18 per cent would consider participation: a steep rise from 12 per cent the year before.

What do the Ipsos findings mean for the election?

As Australians consider the Federal Government to have the most power to influence climate action, the vote on May 21 in turn empowers citizens themselves to influence deep and systemic change. Scientists have concluded that Labour and Greens have the most robust climate policies this election. In contrast, the analysis found Coalition’s policies to be deeply and consistently inadequate. This election gives Australians the chance to vote against the current government’s ill-fated “gas-fired recovery” and the many other fossil fuel projects planned in Australia that are increasing the threat of climate change for current and future generations.

The annual Ipsos Climate Change Report asks approximately 1,000 Australian adults to select environmental issues facing the nation and a series of questions related to climate change. Data is weighted to match the profile of the population.