In a puzzling trend, concern about climate change has plateaued

“[T]he Lowy Institute’s annual polling shows little change in the pattern of aggregate climate opinion between the polling conducted around the 2019 election, and the most recent polling conducted two months before the 2022 election. In 2022, 60 per cent of Australians feel that climate change is a serious problem that should be addressed urgently (a further 29 per cent think climate change is a real but less-than-urgent problem, and 10 per cent are not sure that it is a problem at all). This hardly differs from the 61 per cent in 2019. In fact, the Lowy Institute’s polling has indicated a clear majority of Australians have favoured urgent action on climate change for a good five years now; well ahead of the 2022 change of government to give power to a party with comparatively stronger climate ambition.

Rather than climate change, The Australian Election Study shows that the most decisive issues for voters in 2019 were the economy, tax and party leadership dynamics. In 2022, the electoral outcome and consequences for climate policy are markedly different to those of 2019. But the stability of climate opinion data over the past five years should question any assumptions about a climate action mandate from the 2022 federal election.

More to the point, the change in seats in the 2022 election that delivered a new government occurred primarily in inner metropolitan areas.”

Originally published here at The Interpreter on 29 June 2022.

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