Australians back the Paris Agreement and want a net zero target

The vast majority of Australians support both the government taking action to meet Paris Agreement climate targets and seeking to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

A total of 71 per cent somewhat or strongly support action to meet Paris agreements and 69 per cent back a net zero target according to a survey of 1000 people conducted by research firm Ipsos. Nine and 10 per cent oppose the two measures respectively.

Many Australians believe governments should be doing more to act on climate change.Credit:Jonathan Carroll

But the research last month showed the COVID-19 pandemic has altered the relative importance of the environment in the minds of many.

Asked to name the top three issues facing the nation at the beginning of 2020 in the wake of the unprecedented bushfires, the environment was the main issue for the first time, with more than 40 per cent of respondents rating it in their top three.

However, in October the economy (56 per cent) and unemployment (44 per cent) are the top two issues facing the nation by a comfortable margin. Concern about healthcare and cost of living was also ranked higher, leaving the environment fifth.

But unlike in the period following the global financial crisis, support for general action on climate change has continued to trend upwards through the pandemic, said Ipsos director, Stuart Clark.

“This highlights the degree to which Australians are taking onboard the idea of a green recovery led by government. It’s very different from the situation in 2010 and 2011. At that time, support for climate action dropped away as people prioritised the economic recovery,” he said.

Further data collected in January 2020 shows over half of Australians agree the nation will be better-off in the long run if it meets the Paris Agreement targets, indicating many see long-term benefits to involvement in international efforts to reduce emissions.

In January, 60 per cent of respondents agreed Australia should be a global leader in emissions reduction with the aim of encouraging other countries to take similar actions.

The research also revealed the potential impacts of a transition to renewable energy concerned many, with 69 per cent rating reliability of supply as a top-three priority in transitioning. Ensuring energy prices remains low is a top-three priority at 58 per cent.

Ipsos found the institutions that Australians believed had the most power to act on climate change were governments and large multi-national companies, and most believed governments, including Australia’s, had performed poorly on the issue.

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Most Australians love the ABC and only tolerate politicians

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As an anthropological group, they’re overexposed.

The inner city left-wing elites, in their various iterations around the world, are having an extended post-Brexit, Trumpian and Morrisonian moment that has segued from Manhattan to Carlton, from Dalston to Darlinghurst.

They are blamed for Brexit, the election of Trump and for the inability of the Australian Labor Party to win a federal election in over a decade.

Most recently they popped up in a staff briefing given last week by ABC news boss Gaven Morris, who reportedly told staff he would prefer "if we spent less time on the concerns of the inner city elites and more time on the things that matter to central Queensland".

ABC director of news Gaven Morris.Credit:Dominic Lorrimer

"If there is a perception in the community that we are more interested in the concerns and lives of inner city elites, then we need to work harder to make sure we are as relevant to people in central Queensland as we are to people in inner Sydney," he told The Sun-Herald and Sunday Age.

It is not clear which areas of ABC coverage might need roughing up. Many ABC employees probably do live in the inner urban areas, which would be typical of many journalists.

Whether or not they qualify as "elite" is another thing – the average ABC salary is about $81,000, according to job site Indeed, which is higher than the national average but about average for Sydney. They are probably likely to be university graduates and come from the middle class, I would guess.

Morris’ implicit criticism, coming straight from the horse’s mouth, will be music to the ears of some federal politicians who enjoy the strategic deployment of culture war tropes.

Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack, a man so representative that fewer than one in three voters recognise him, likes to orate about "the almond latte left" (although his knowledge of-the-moment non-dairy alternatives hints at a persona far trendier than his cultivated country image lets on).

As rhetoric it’s mildly diverting, but the idea that our Parliament – overwhelmingly male, white and of the professional political class – is representative in the sense of being like its constituents, is laughable.

Ah, but you don’t need to be exactly like your constituents to represent their interests, do you?

If this is the case, why should it be any different for journalists?

This is a subject of debate in Australia, where a historic lack of cultural diversity in newsrooms has led to charges that ethnic communities, multicultural outer-urban suburbs, and Indigenous issues have been overlooked by mainstream journalists for too long.

Ironically these are issues many would define as "inner city lefty" stuff.

But the city/country/left/right divide is not just a trope used by one elite (politicians) to bash another (journalists).

There is truth to the phenomenon – just ask the Labor Party, which is trying desperately to find a way to appeal to both inner-urban voters who care about climate action (and might just vote Green), and their traditional working class base, which is (broadly) much more concerned about jobs and family security than the environment.

Brexit and the election of Trump have both been attributed to the disconnection between the upper middle politico-media class and ordinary people who face threats from economic forces the elites blithely wave off.

Woke culture, where one social group is seen to regard itself as more righteous than another, is strongly connected to this phenomenon.

The national broadcaster is reflecting this global conversation, and thinking about its own part in the dynamic. That’s as it should be.

But politicians wishing to take advantage of this reporting should remember that most Australians love the ABC, whereas they only tolerate politicians.

Twitter: @JacquelineMaley

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