Aussies fear climate impact on food supply

Australia

Most Australians believe climate change is already occurring and fear the impacts on crop production and food supply as a result, a new report reveals.

The latest Climate of the Nation report shows Australians are increasingly worried about the impacts of climate change, from extreme weather events, animal and plant extinctions, as well as water shortages in cities.

Nearly half of those surveyed fear more heatwaves, while slightly less (42 per cent) are concerned about more extreme weather such as flood and cyclones.

Climate action-focused independent Warringah MP Zali Steggall, who toppled former prime minister Tony Abbott at this year’s election, will officially launch the report in Canberra on Tuesday.

“Australians are rightly concerned about more extreme heatwaves, droughts and bushfires and they want the Morrison government to show leadership on climate change and do more to prepare for the impacts that are already locked in,” she said.

Close to 2000 Australians took part in the survey, with government population data used to ensure the sample reflected the spread of people across the nation.

The number of people who think climate change is occurring (77 per cent) matches the record high rate from 2016, while 12 per cent don’t believe it’s happening and 11 per cent are unsure.

About two-thirds believe climate change is caused by humans.

Almost two-thirds support a national target of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

Two-thirds of Australians also think coal-fired power should be phased out within the next 20 years, while 17 per cent believe it should always remain in the mix.

The national result mirrors that of those in Queensland, where most believe coal-fired power stations should be phased out (73 per cent) and 13 per cent don’t think it needs to replaced as an energy source.

The annual survey has tracked the public’s attitude towards climate change for more than a decade.

Left-leaning think tank The Australia Institute has conducted the survey for the past two years after being handed the reins from the Climate Institute when it closed.

The report shows a generational split on climate change, with Australians aged between 18 and 34 more concerned and supportive of action to reduce emissions.

The report’s launch coincides with a climate protest planned outside Parliament House on Tuesday, ahead of global strikes on September 20.

Bushfires are already ravaging NSW and Queensland.

Natural Disaster Minister David Littleproud on Monday said the drought had “exacerbated” the fires, but he refused to be drawn on whether human-induced climate change was also to blame.

Labor MP Julian Hill said the “language of belief” was clouding the debate.

“It’s a peculiar Australian disease that conservatives in this country have, in rejecting the science of climate change,” he said.

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