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Climate change, household's and Govt's respon -

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Climate change, household's and Govt's responsibility: report

The World Today - Monday, 14 April , 2008 12:46:00

Reporter: Barbara Miller

LISA MILLAR: Concern among Australians about climate change has apparently evolved over the past
year into solid support for action to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

That's the conclusion of a report released today by the Climate Institute, which found that 94 per
cent of Australians now accept they need to make changes in their own lives to prevent further
climate change.

The overwhelming majority of respondents said they believed the government also needed to make
major changes to address the issue.

John Connor is the CEO of the Climate Institute. He's speaking here to our reporter Barbara Miller.

BARBARA MILLER: John Connor, this is your second "Climate of the Nation" report. What has changed
over the past year in terms of people's attitude towards climate change?

JOHN CONNOR: I guess we're most worried that with the election of Kevin Rudd and the ratification
of Kyoto and some range(phonetic) in northern Australia that actually concerned my drop(phonetic),
but we've still got historically high levels of concern about climate change and Australians are
hungry for action.

Kyoto ratification was given a big tick but they actually want more action from their government in
terms of cutting greenhouse pollution and making the switch to clean energy.

BARBARA MILLER: What sort of action do they want?

JOHN CONNOR: They want to see all new electricity come from clean energy. It's round about
three-quarters of Australians support that, for example. People are keen for greater energy
efficiency in their homes and their cars.

And one of the interesting things here has been some dispute about this and there's certainly
people are prepared to take some action themselves, almost nine out of ten, well around nine out of
10 Australians recognise that they've got to take some action. But of course they know, they also
know that governments need to lead the way.

BARBARA MILLER: What you say nine out of ten know that they have to take some action, did you get
any sense about whether people are prepared to suffer financially by taking action, for example?

JOHN CONNOR: Yeah, we've looked at this a couple of ways and one of the ways we did this back in
November, in some marginal seats just before the election where we gave them a range of price
options and 72 per cent were prepared to at least 10 bucks a month more for clean energy.

But we've also looked at other things and what they're prepared to do. People are prepared to fix
their lighting, get more energy efficiency in their homes, get more energy efficient appliances.
There are a range of things that people are prepared to do but I think they also understand that
some of the big decisions, some of the big infrastructure decisions, like with our electricity
generation, that's going to need government leadership.

BARBARA MILLER: Do you get the sense that people would be more likely to act if they were forced
to, that they expect the Government really to tell them what they have to do?

JOHN CONNOR: I think there's an understanding there that there's a mix. There are some things that
they can be in control of, but there are other things which they can't. They obviously can't make
the decision about whether we should be building a new traditional coal-fired power station or not.

So there are some things here in making the switch to a low-carbon or a clean energy economy, it's
just not going to be a matter of household, a consumer decision. These are going to be policy
decisions.

BARBARA MILLER: You said that you'd also identified a growing scepticism about the major political
parties' ability to deliver change which will affect climate change. Can you just explain that
finding?

JOHN CONNOR: Yeah, we're a little surprised that, for example, that the ALP hadn't increased it's
standing significantly. It certainly increased somewhat and it certainly got a leadership in terms
of the better party for climate change. But we still have a majority, a slim majority, of people
who can't see the difference between the major parties.

So, it really shows the climate leadership is still up for grabs, but of course the Coalition has
actually gone back substantially from when we asked this question last year from the 15 to seven
per cent. So we've got a much more work to do but nor should the ALP will be resting on its
laurels.

LISA MILLAR: That's John Connor speaking there to Barbara Miller.