Poll: Eight in ten want clean energy

The Lowy Institute has found 81 per cent of Australians want governments to focus on clean energy sources, and just 17 per cent want governments to focus on coal and gas. The findings of the 2017 poll that coincided with the release of the Finkel Review of the energy market reinforce the strong preference for renewable energy over fossil fuels, a fact that Coalition party backbenchers are yet to acknowledge or concede.

The following graphic illustrates the high expectations for solar energy provided by the response to the question: “Which energy source will be primary driver ten years from now?”

The report states: “Even in the midst of heated debate and government rhetoric about the need for energy security following recent energy blackouts at the time the Poll survey was taken, an overwhelming majority of Australian adults (81 per cent) want the government to ‘focus on renewables, even if this means we may need to invest more in infrastructure to make the system more reliable’.

Fewer than one in five (17 per cent) say ‘the government should focus on traditional energy sources such as coal and gas, even if this means the environment may suffer to some extent’.

In its 2016 poll the Lowy Institute found almost all Australians (88 per cent) agreed that ‘the use of fossil fuels is in decline around the world and Australia should invest more in alternative energy sources or risk being left behind’.

Only 53 per cent agreed (45 per cent disagreed) that ‘Australia has an abundant supply of fossil fuels and we should continue to use and export them to keep our economy strong’.

Back in 2015, solar energy was the top response by far when Australians were asked which source ‘will be our primary source of energy ten years from now’: 43 per cent nominated solar energy, with 17 per cent selecting coal, the second-highest ranked option.

In other results from the 2017 Lowy Institute Poll, most Australians (57 per cent, up 11 points since 2014) regard climate change as a critical threat to Australia’s vital interests in the next ten years. This places climate change in the top three of 11 serious threats, behind only international terrorism and the nuclear threat from North Korea. More Australians regard the threat of climate change as more serious to the nation than a severe downturn in the global economy, foreign investment in Australia, asylum seekers coming to Australia by boat, and the foreign policies of China and Russia.

The full set of results from the 2017 Lowy Institute Poll will be released on 21 June 2017, together with the updated poll interactive site at www.lowyinstitute.org.

The 2017 Lowy Institute Poll: telephone survey of 1200 Australian adults, conducted on behalf of the Lowy Institute by the Social Research Centre between 1 and 21 March 2017. The maximum sampling variance (‘error margin’) of all Polls is approximately +/- 2.8 per cent.