Most Australians believe the Australian Government should do more to help low-income nations address climate change, while 58% of citizens think climate change impacts “poor people more than wealthy people,” a new poll has revealed. 

The Making Things Right report, conducted by YouGov on behalf of aid organisation CARE Australia, details Australian attitudes towards global warming and climate change, including whether or not the Australian Government has a responsibility to help low-emitting, climate-vulnerable countries. 

The poll, which surveyed over 1,000 Australians country-wide in September, also found that 64% of Australians believe wealthy nations have contributed the most to climate change and therefore should do the most to combat it. Just over 60%, meanwhile, believe Australia’s closest neighbours in the Pacific face the “most risk from disasters fuelled by climate change.”

When asked about emissions per capita, just 14% of the population correctly guessed that Australia exceeds China.

Australia currently emits 15.5 metric tonnes of CO2 per person, against China’s 7.4.

CARE Australia CEO Peter Walton has called on the government to listen to the public and immediately announce new funding. 

"We’re recommending the Australian Government immediately double its climate finance commitment to $3 billion over 2020-2025, and progressively increase this to achieve our fair share of $12 billion annually by 2030,” Walton told Global Citizen. “This should be in addition to the current aid budget, and should not take away from funding other vital areas of aid such as health, education and women’s empowerment.”

Walton explained additional funding could help strengthen early-warning systems, train people in adaptive farming and fishing techniques and crucially, ensure the establishment of homes and buildings that can withstand disasters and rising seas.

CARE has recommended 20% of the additional funding be secured for projects that specifically target women. 

A similar Climate Poll by the Lowy Institute reveals the percentage of Australians concerned about climate change is increasing. 

The Climate Poll 2021 shows that this year, 55% of Australians feel the Australian Government's key priority when it comes to establishing and enforcing energy policy should center around reducing carbon emissions, up from 47% in 2019.

Similarly, 60% of Australians feel the government should begin taking steps to address global warming — up from 56% the year prior, even if they involve high costs. However, it should be noted that responses have fluctuated, with 36% agreeing in 2012 and 68% in 2006. 

Walton believes concern about climate change is increasing because Australians can now see its detrimental effects up close.

"Australians are seeing the devastating effects of climate change first-hand, such as the terrible 2019-2020 bushfires. At the same time, we’re aware that some of our neighbours in the Pacific have water lapping at their doors,” he said. “Australians believe in fairness, and these results show they’re not prepared to stand by and let the people least responsible for climate change suffer the most.”

This year, the United States, United Kingdom and Canada have all doubled their climate finance commitments.  

Global Citizen has long called for Australia to increase climate financing. You can take action with Global Citizen here.


Defend the Planet

Australians Say Government Must Help Developing Nations Address Climate Change: Report

By Madeleine Keck