Poll shows Australians want renewables investment and stronger emissions targets

Female hand on tablet completing survey (poll)
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The annual national poll by the Lowy Institute of 2,006 Australians shows the vast majority support federal government subsidies for renewable energy technology and a more ambitious emissions target for 2030. Less than a third support subsidising existing coal power stations. 

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Key poll findings include:

  • Ninety per cent of Australians support federal government subsidies for renewable energy technology, 77 per cent support a more ambitious emissions target for 2030, and 75 per cent back Australia hosting a United Nations Climate Conference.
  • Sixty per cent say ‘global warming is a serious and pressing problem’ about which ‘we should begin taking steps now even if this involves significant costs’.
  • More than half support reducing coal exports to other countries (65 per cent), introducing an emissions trading scheme or carbon tax (64 per cent) and banning new coal mines (63 per cent).
  • Only a third (33 per cent) support subsiding new coal-fired power plants.

While 59 per cent support increasing the use of gas and 52 per cent removing the ban on nuclear power, experts warn that nuclear power plants are prohibitively expensive, would take decades to build, and are not a viable energy solution, while gas expansion would accelerate dangerous climate change.

Joseph O’Brien, managing director of CuString, developers of the 1000-kilometre high voltage CopperString electricity network to connect critical minerals and renewable energy projects in North West Queensland with the national grid, said, “The Australian Government has recognised the need for 10,000km of transmission line to deliver stable, affordable and sustainable electricity by connecting solar and wind to the grid, and the Lowy Institute’s annual poll reinforces the expectation, with an overwhelming majority of Australians supporting renewables.

“Let’s get on and build it, bring it online and supercharge the network. Federal Energy Minister Chris Bowen has committed to work with us and the Queensland Government to progress CopperString to unlock North West Queensland’s potential for critical minerals and large-scale renewable energy projects, and drive the Prime Minister’s goal for our nation to be a clean energy superpower.”

John Quiggin, professor of economics at the University of Queensland, said, “In the absence of a carbon price and a commitment to complete decarbonisation of the electricity price, removing the ban on nuclear power is pointless symbolism. With current technology, nuclear power cannot compete with wind and solar PV with battery storage. Even if costs can be reduced using small reactor technology, expected around 2030, there is no serious possibility of deploying nuclear power in Australia before the 2040s.”

Climate Council head of research Dr Simon Bradshaw said, “Given the historic climate election we’ve just had in Australia, it’s no surprise Australians want to supercharge renewables so we can stop using fossil fuels and cut pollution. 

“Two-thirds of Australians who took this poll agree coal exports should be reduced and importantly, that there should be no more coal mines. Fossil fuels like coal and gas are a dead end: expensive, outdated and worsening the climate problem. 

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“Building large-scale wind and solar projects is the cheapest way of producing electricity, even when paired with storage. It is also low risk, renewable and non-polluting. It’s time to leave fossil fuels in the polluting past where they belong and get on with the task of charging ahead into our renewable future.”

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