Australians choose emissions over prices

Six in 10 people think Australia should take action on climate change regardless of the costs.
Six in 10 people think Australia should take action on climate change regardless of the costs.

More Australians want the federal government to prioritise reducing emissions over lowering their power bills.

The latest Lowy Institute poll on Australians' attitudes to international events, which was released on Wednesday, shows 47 per cent want the government to prioritise reducing emissions.

This compares with 38 per cent who want the priority to be reducing household power bills, while 15 per cent think the main concern is preventing blackouts.

Australian views towards energy policy are significantly split between generations, with 62 per cent of 18 to 44-year-olds seeing reducing emissions as a priority, compared to 33 per cent of those over 45.

This year's poll is the first time respondents have named climate change as the greatest critical threat to Australia over the next decade.

Nearly 65 per cent of Australians consider climate change to be a critical threat, an increase of six points from last year and 18 points from 2014.

Attitudes towards climate change are also split between age groups, with three quarters of Australians aged between 18 to 44 saying global warming is a "serious and pressing problem".

In comparison, just less than half (49 per cent) over the age of 45 feel the same way.

But overall, six-in-10 people think Australia should start taking action on climate change, even if there are significant costs involved.

Just under 30 per cent say the effects of climate change are gradual so the issue can be slowly dealt with using low cost options.

And 10 per cent think action should only be taken when climate change is a proven problem, and until then steps should only be taken that have no economic cost.

Australian Associated Press