Survey: Aussies serious about climate change


Climate change


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Australians admit climate change is a serious issue and are making small lifestyle changes to protect the environment, according to a new survey.

The views of Australians were compared to those from the US and the UK on global issues such as climate change, carbon emissions trading and alternative power sources in the latest poll from the Australian National University.

"When you look at international comparisons, Australians see global warming as a bigger threat to their way of life than does the US public," said Ian McAllister, the lead research of ANUpoll.

When asked to evaluate the severity of climate change, 56 per cent of Australians thought it was a 'serious threat' compared to 40 per cent in the US. Drought and the degradation of rivers, lakes and oceans polled as the most concerning side effects of global warming ahead of loss of native vegetation and soil salinity.

Most Australians - 77 per cent - also feel that they understand climate change issues 'very well' or 'fairly well'.

However, Australians do not share the same views as their US counterparts when it comes to nuclear power. While the majority of people in the US support nuclear energy, around half of Australians oppose it.

"Over the last two decades, public support for nuclear energy has declined," said McAllister, "while support for uranium mining has remained relatively stable."

While Australians may not be willing to use nuclear energy to help the environment, most are making small changes to reduce their impact on the environment.

"Australians have a much higher degree of environmental behaviour than their British counterparts," McAllister said. The survey showed that 92 per cent of Australians recycle household rubbish compared to only 58 per cent in Britain in 2002.

A report recently released by the Australian Food and Grocery Council agrees.

The report investigated the national recycling rate for glass, aluminium and PET drink containers, finding that 75-85 per cent of all drink containers were being recycled. This is testament to the publics' attitude towards helping the environment, says Jenny Pickles, the general manager of the associated Packaging Stewardship Forum.

"Clearly households around the country are recycling, not for the incentive of a deposit but because kerbside collections have made it easy for them to recycle and they want to do the right thing for our environment," she said.