Apr 8, 2014

Essential: over-55s climate deniers, everyone hates Direct Action

Climate denialism is very closely linked to age, new polling from Essential Research finds. But support for the federal government's "Direct Action" plan is minimal across the board.

Bernard Keane — Politics editor

Bernard Keane

Politics editor

Older Australians are much less likely to believe in anthropogenic climate change, with over-55s the only Australians to reject climate science, polling from Essential Research finds. Some 56% of voters believe climate change is real and caused by humans, the highest level recorded since Essential began asking about climate change belief in November 2009; 34% of voters believe fluctuations in the earth’s climate are natural, the lowest level since the 34% recorded in 2009. Liberal voters also reject climate science, 51% to 39%, but that's a big shift from January, when they split 61%-29%. People over 55 in particular are very different to the rest of Australia. Only 42% of over-55s believe climate change is caused by humans, while 52% believe it’s natural. That compares to 60% of people under 55 who believe in anthropogenic climate change, and only 28% who think it’s natural. In fact, Essential finds a direct link between climate denialism and age, producing the result that those who will never see the worst effects of climate change are the greatest political impediment to action to address it, while younger people understand the costs they will face as a consequence of our inaction.

However, support for Environment Minister Greg Hunt's shambolic "Direct Action" plan, which remains unclear six months after the government was elected, has fallen to just 12%, down 3 points from October last year. The proportion of voters who want to keep the carbon price is up 2 points to 17%, while 22% support the transition from a carbon price to an emission trading scheme. It is Liberal voters who have turned their backs on Hunt's policy, given Labor and Greens voters were entirely hostile to it; support among Liberal voters for Hunt's policy of picking polluters to hand billions of dollars in grants to has fallen from 28% to 23%. Some 30% of voters -- mostly Liberal voters -- don't want to take any action on climate change. Meanwhile, Tony Abbott has extended his lead as preferred prime minister over Opposition Leader Bill Shorten to 42%-32%, up from 39%-33% in March. Abbott leads among independent/other voters, 29%-23%. That's despite Shorten reversing a worrying trend of negative approval ratings -- in March his net approval rating was 7 points; it's now back to 34%-38%. Abbott has basically remained steady, on 41% approval and 47% disapproval, compared to 40%-47% in March. On voting intention, the two-party preferred outcome remains at 51%-49% to Labor, with the Coalition remaining on 43%, Labor dropping a point to 38%, the Greens steady on 9% and Palmer United on 3%. Voters' traditional antipathy to privatisation is also on display: on balance, voters are opposed the privatisation of Medibank Private, opposing it 46% to 25%, although they split on partisan lines, with Coalition voters supporting the sale. But partisanship is much less apparent when it comes to the expected impact on Medibank private premiums: voters are united in expecting that the sale will lead to increases in premiums -- 61% expect increases, while only 3% think it might lead to falls in premiums. They're also cool on Treasurer Joe Hockey's proposal to state and territory treasurers that they sell off assets to fund infrastructure investment, opposing it 58% to 25%. Even Coalition voters are unenthusiastic, backing it 44% to 41%.

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17 thoughts on “Essential: over-55s climate deniers, everyone hates Direct Action

  1. klewso

    Alas, poor little “Yorick” – I knew him when the Abbott used to saddle him up as his “environmental expert” – selling what he did?
    But I know a boot-maker …. for when he wants his sole back?

  2. Dez Paul

    Well, Abbott is 56 years old, so he just makes the age entry to denialism.

  3. Brangwyn

    I am a long way over 55 and I believe in climate change.The earth’s climate has warmed and cooled since the earth became water and gas and carbon all crushed together into a nice round ball. And since the industrial revolution we have added to warming it, on top of what it is doing all by itself. Turn back Tony may think he can fix it by planting some trees ( as he logs others) but I don’t think so. It will continue because we are profligate with the earth’s resources and our Governments are wedded to “growth”. It will all end in tears but I will be dead.

  4. MJPC

    @Bragwyn, I am over 55 also and have no doubt climate change is a reality that needs to be addressed now, not in the never never as Citizen Hunt’s plan seeks to do if we ever find out what it is.
    Governments are wedded to growth and the world’s population keeps expanding in a finite world; it will end in tears for someone.

  5. Jeff McIlwain

    i can’t remember even what greg hunt looks like. i keep thinking of peter dutton. poor old greg.

  6. zut alors

    It’s difficult to hate Direct Action when it doesn’t actually exist.

  7. kd

    Well this doesn’t bode well for the libs as we get generational turnover. 15-20 years time and they’re in deep deep trouble.

  8. Hochfelden

    I am 72 , since last week, and not being a climate scientist cannot be a judge as to whether climate change is man made or not. But I believe that it is extremely likely that a combination of natural cyclical change together with the effects of the burning of fossil fuels which has increased at an alarming rate in the past 200 years are most likely the cause. You only have to drive through the Lower Hunter Valley and see a moon landscape that has literally gone up in smoke in the past hundred years to see the evidence. The main problem for Australia is the elephant in the room that both sides of politics refuse to recognize that the whole economy is now totally dependent on digging holes and burning the spoils in part to melt the other spoils to make steel. Very soon the Far East will have to reduce their coal consumption and then Australia will return to a barren island living in the stone age but unlike the original inhabitants completely unable to survive …and all in just over two centuries.

  9. Buddy

    We can’t see the climate change for the coal burning! Every over 55 yr old I personally know accepts anthropogenic climate change. Who are these deniers and how do they vote I wonder and what will they say to their grandchildren in 15 yrs time.. Oooops

  10. amy robinsons

    The argument in some ways has become a religon and dogmatic given most deniers look to be resistant to “conversion” or even god forbid “selling” them on it.

    To me it appears to be a predominately a “middle class lounge room activist” issue (to use a Crikeyism), the poor the homeless the indigenous are struggling, the hundreds of thousands suffering domestic violence are overwhelmed working out how they will get through today or tomorrow. Apart from increased disasters and refugee movements the majority world is mostly engaged in survival activities too – dodging disease, famine, energy scarcity, pollution, wars and civil unrest and wonky religious/government violence of one form or another ie China.

    Then we have many signs and scientific opinion saying we have reached the tipping point or worst case envelope of climate change predictions. While in the sci fi 21st century the continuing grip of medieval beliefs like the Mad Monk and colonial aspirational monarchy amongst our “leadership”, never a population policy or debate, junk news, science education going backwards, exporting most of our best science graduates and treeplanting schemes from the 1990s when the Hunts “Aussie Tea Party” isn’t 1950ing it. All the while military budgets remain holy cows across the globe.

    Perhaps it’s the middle class that needs some other perspectives and worldviews rather than this tired one of expectation in converting the boomers and bogans.

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