Aussies want polluters to pay for climate crisis, poll finds

Australians want wealthy polluters to help pay for the impact of climate damage, new research shows.

Australians want wealthy polluters to help pay for the impact of climate damage, new research shows. Photo: Getty

Australians are worried about the mounting costs of climate change and overwhelmingly want fossil fuel industries to pay for it, new research has found.

Some 74 per cent of Australians support a pollution tax, 66 per cent back a windfall profits tax on the oil and gas industry, and 59 per cent support a tax on fossil fuel exports, according to the Australia Institute’s Climate of the Nation report released on Tuesday.

“Australians want those who are profiting from the climate crisis to pay for the damage they are causing,” said Polly Hemming, climate and energy program director at the Australia Institute.

“While Australians are contending with record price and interest rate increases, fossil fuel companies are enjoying record profits – including $140 billion on LNG and coal exports in 2023 alone.

“And these are some of the same companies paying little or no company tax.”

Taxing times

When it comes to shouldering the financial burden of climate change, 45 per cent of respondents believe that fossil fuel producers should pay for the response costs – only 12 per cent think the government should.

Previous governments’ efforts to claim a larger share of mining rents through taxation have met fierce campaigns from the industry.

But the polling shows a disparity between public perceptions of the economic role of fossil fuel industries and the reality.

Australians also significantly overestimate the economic role of fossil fuel industries.

They believe the gas and oil industry accounts for 10.4 per cent of total employment and 12.4 per cent of GDP. The actual figures are 0.2 per cent and about 2.5 per cent.

And the Petroleum Resource Rent Tax, which many believe contributes 12 per cent to the federal budget, actually accounts for just 0.4 per cent.

Changes announced in this year’s budget to bring in an extra $2.4 billion in taxes over four years from offshore gas companies were condemned as watered down.

“Our climate and earth systems are breaking down at an even faster rate than scientists had feared, meaning we need to accelerate action, yet the major parties continue to drag their feet,” said ACT independent Senator David Pocock, who will launch the report.

Nearly half of Australians (47 per cent) believe the Australian government is not doing enough to prepare for climate change.

Federal and state governments in Australia are still allocating $11.1 billion annually to subsidise fossil fuels, according to a tally by the think tank.

Political climate change

But Australians are also worried about climate change’s immediate impacts, including to the rising cost of living.

Australians’ top concerns include droughts and floods affecting agriculture (80 per cent), climate-induced hikes in insurance premiums (79 per cent) and disruption to essential supplies (75 per cent).

The report comes as the International Energy Agency projected the consumption of significant fossil fuels to begin declining within the decade.

In the Financial Times on Tuesday, IEA head Fatih Birol hailed a “historic turning point” driven by growth in renewable energy and demand for electric vehicles.

But he called on policy makers to do more to speed up the energy transition and reduce emissions despite growing political obstacles.

The Climate of the Nation report is an ongoing benchmark of public opinion on climate change.

This year’s data was gathered through YouGov Galaxy’s Online Omnibus between June 16 and 23, from a sample of 2089 Australians.

Stay informed, daily
A FREE subscription to The New Daily arrives every morning and evening.
The New Daily is a trusted source of national news and information and is provided free for all Australians. Read our editorial charter
Copyright © 2024 The New Daily.
All rights reserved.