Since he got the top job Malcolm Turnbull has been treading extra cautiously around the Abbott old guard’s pet issues — there’ll be no sudden moves on gay marriage, coal mining or offshore detention, he has assured the likes of Eric Abetz. And despite appointing a chief scientist with some fairly radical views on renewable energy, the PM himself has been careful — thus far — to endorse the Coalition’s existing policy on climate change: the Abbott government’s (woefully inadequate) Direct Action plan.

Turnbull’s caution might be important to Coalition unity, but today’s Essential polling shows overwhelming support for action on climate change ahead of next month’s COP 21 conference in Paris.

The poll finds only 9% of voters think world leaders don’t need to take any further action to address climate change. A whopping 49% back urgent action today, and another 28% want action within the next decade.

If, come election time, Turnbull wants a mandate to introduce an effective policy mechanism to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, it won’t be hard to find. At some point very soon, the strongly held views of Australian voters — especially young ones — must trump those of the Coalition’s conservative dinosaurs.

Peter Fray

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