Climate concerns increasingly pick up as coal mining ban attracts support, says Lowy

For example, nearly three-quarters of respondents agreed that “the benefits of taking further action on climate change would outweigh the costs”, with less than a quarter saying otherwise.

“This is a really solid result” because the climate debate had been “bogged down for so long above the costs,” Ms. Kassam said.

BHP’s Mt Arthur coal mine near Muswellbrook in the Hunter Valley of New South Wales. Almost two-thirds of those polled by Lowy support a ban on new coal mines in Australia. Credit:Janie Barrett

Likewise, nearly two in three respondents, or 63 percent, said they would support a ban on new coal mines in Australia, with the same proportion supporting a reduction in coal exports.

Among those aged 18 to 44, 72% support the mining ban, compared to 55% of those over 45.

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Former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull called for such a moratorium on new coal mines in late March, comments which sparked opposition from some politicians and media commentators and fired him as head of an advisory board from the NSW government on the climate a week later.

Meanwhile, Lowy’s survey found that support for federal aid for renewable energy development remained very high, at 91%, but less than one in three subsidies sustained for new coal-fired power plants.

The Morrison government’s determination to date to avoid committing to a firm target of achieving net zero emissions by 2050 is also at odds with popular opinion.

The Lowy poll found that 78% of governments support government carbon neutrality by 2050.

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All states have already set themselves such a target – with the ACT targeting 2045 – while the federal government has so far committed to achieving carbon neutrality “as soon as possible and preferably by 2050”.

One policy that politicians other than the Greens have tended to avoid is the use of carbon pricing as a key policy tool.

Around 64% said they would support either a carbon tax or an emissions trading scheme, a policy the Abbott coalition government rolled back in 2014 two years after it was introduced by the Labor government Gillard.

Among respondents aged 18 to 44 percent, support for a carbon price was 71 percent, while 57 percent of those over 45 supported such a policy.

Next, Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt is praised by his colleagues after carbon tax repeal bills passed in the lower house in 2014. Lowy’s poll indicates that he is in favor of the return of a certain form of price on pollution by greenhouse gases.Credit: Alex Ellinghausen

The Morrison government, however, could take some comfort from the investigation, with 58 percent in favor of increased use of gas for power generation.

Another source of energy is gradually gaining favor, with support for lifting the current ban on nuclear power now roughly equal to the opposition, at 47 percent for and 51 percent against.

That ratio supporting ending the nuclear power ban fell from 35% in favor in 2011, down from 62% at the time, Kassam said.

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