With the findings of the Finkel review on electricity markets and energy security to be released on 9 June 2017, the latest Lowy Institute Poll has found that Australians have a clear preference for renewables over traditional sources of energy such as coal and gas.
Even in the midst of heated debate and government rhetoric about the need for energy security following recent energy blackouts at the time the Poll survey was taken, an overwhelming majority of Australian adults (81%) want the government to ‘focus on renewables, even if this means we may need to invest more in infrastructure to make the system more reliable’. Fewer than one in five (17%) say ‘the government should focus on traditional energy sources such as coal and gas, even if this means the environment may suffer to some extent’.
These attitudes align with previous findings of the Lowy Institute Poll on Australians’ preference for alternative energy sources. In 2016, almost all Australians (88%) agreed that ‘the use of fossil fuels is in decline around the world and Australia should invest more in alternative energy sources or risk being left behind’. Only 53% agreed (45% disagreed) that ‘Australia has an abundant supply of fossil fuels and we should continue to use and export them to keep our economy strong’.
In 2015, solar energy was the top response by far when Australians were asked which source ‘will be our primary source of energy ten years from now’: 43% nominated solar energy, with 17% selecting coal, the second-highest ranked option.
In other results from the 2017 Lowy Institute Poll released last week, most Australians (57%, up 11 points since 2014) see climate change as a critical threat to Australia’s vital interests in the next ten years. This places climate change in the top three of 11 serious threats, behind only international terrorism and the nuclear threat from North Korea. More Australians regard the threat of climate change as serious to the nation than a severe downturn in the global economy, foreign investment in Australia, asylum seekers coming to Australia by boat, and the foreign policies of China and Russia.
The full set of results from the 2017 Lowy Institute Poll will be released on 21 June 2017, together with the updated poll interactive site at www.lowyinstitute.org.
These results are drawn from the 2017 Lowy Institute Poll, a nationally representative telephone survey of 1200 Australian adults, conducted on behalf of the Lowy Institute by the Social Research Centre between 1 and 21 March 2017. The 2016 Poll was conducted by Fieldworks with a sample of 1202 adults from 26 February and 15 March 2016, and the 2015 Poll was conducted by I-view with a sample of 1200 adults from 20 February and 8 March 2015, both on behalf of the Lowy Institute. The maximum sampling variance (‘error margin’) of all Polls is approximately +/- 2.8%.
Image source: Flick user Ed Suominen