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Lowy Poll – climate change and public hypocrisy

The Lowy Institute has released their annual Lowy Poll that mostly focuses on various aspects of foreign policy related public opinion. We’ll go through the broader poll a little later on today, but first up it’s worth going through the responses to a set of global warming questions they asked – and in some instances, have asked over a number of years.

This year’s poll is a phone poll that ran off a sample of 1001, giving us an MoE that maxes out around the 3.1% mark.

The first global warming question asks:

There is a controversy over what the countries of the world, including Australia, should do about the problem of global warming. I’m going to read you three statements. Please tell me which statement comes closest to your own point of view.

They’ve asked this question 4 times in five years, allowing us to see some longer term trends in the responses:


The trends here are consistent with what we’ve seen from the Morgan phone poll results over the same period – where the urgency of public opinion on the need for action has waned over the last 3 years.

The next question asks about public opinion on unilateral climate change action, with some interesting results.

At this stage there is no global agreement to reduce carbon emissions. Do you personally agree, or disagree that Australia should take action to reduce its carbon emissions before a global agreement is reached?


72% of the public believe that Australia should take unilateral action. We know from the first question that only 46% of the public support action that involves significant costs while 40% believe in gradual, low cost action – but what numbers do the public attach to “significant” and “low” costs?

The Lowy Poll adds some meat to the bones of this question in terms of personal financial costs with their next question:

One suggested way of tackling climate change is to increase the price of electricity. If it helped solve climate change how much extra would you be willing to pay each month on your electricity bill? Please say an amount, rounded off to the nearest ten dollars.

They also asked this question in 2008 – so we’ll run through both results, by age cross-tabs, and look at how the willingness to pay has changed over the last 2 years.


Across the total Australian population, the proportion of people not prepared to pay anything has increased from 21 to 33%, while the proportion of people prepared to pay some amount has remained steady or dropped across all nominated ranges of cost values.

The age breakdowns have shown some quite dramatic shifts. While 18-29 year olds have not shown any significant movement over the last 2 years in terms of willingness to pay, the 60+ age group has shown a 20 point increase in the proportion not willing to pay any increase in electricity prices and where most of that shift came from people willing to pay a small amount (1-10$ per month) two years ago.

The older a person is, the more likely they are to not only be not prepared to pay higher electricity prices, but over the last two years, the older a person is the more likely they were to increase their opposition to paying higher prices.

Lowy also produced some cross-tab results for the first question against the responses of this willingness to pay question:


A full 20% of the those that believed in the need for immediate action that carries with it significant costs weren’t actually prepared to shoulder any of those significant costs themselves via increased electricity prices. In fact, only 29% of the people that believed in action involving significant costs were willing to pay significant costs themselves in terms of paying $21 or more a month for their electricity.

This is like those  standard polling results that show a large majority wanting more government services, and the same sized majority wanting lower taxes. Climate change, like so many other areas of public policy in Australia, is an exercise in rank public hypocrisy – oh yes, we all want X,Y and Z, but someone else can pay for it.


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  • 1
    Posted May 31, 2010 at 9:59 am | Permalink

    What we really needed to find out from the Lowy Institute is how many people thought Tony Abbott’s ‘Direct Action’ policy was the appropriate way to go wrt Climate Change policy.

  • 2
    Posted May 31, 2010 at 10:14 am | Permalink

    As the song lyric says: “everyone wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die”.

    The inconvenient truth is that most people are in fact not very aware of the rapidity of change in the global climate, nor it’s readily observable effects on the biosphere. Scientists from hundreds of disciplines keep giving us the most dire results and even worse projections, yet look at the decline in the ‘urgency’ numbers!

    Talk about a disjunction from reality.

    And of course who can we thank for this? Well first up, the right wingnut brigade and their various organs like the Oz for starters. I find it amazingly rich after their pounding the denialists’ drum to then accuse Rudd of a ‘backflip’ in dropping the ETS after twice getting it trashed in the Senate.

    So now Abbott can be ‘half pregnant’ on climate change as he tries to scoop up that bulk of voters who don’t think it’s ‘crap’ exactly, but want some token effort made to relieve themselves of any guilt down the road. “Oh Lord, make me chaste, but not just yet”.

    Christ, this country needs leadership.

  • 3
    Posted May 31, 2010 at 10:15 am | Permalink

    Interesting that the fraction of people who are prepared to pay a large cost hasn’t changed. So the 20% or so who take climate change very seriously and will pay for action has remained solid in its belief. This would explain why the Greens and climate groups still think there is large grass-roots support. Their 10-20% of strong supporters are unwavering.

    While the “do a bits” have turned into “do nothings”.

  • 4
    Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)
    Posted May 31, 2010 at 10:41 am | Permalink


    The biggest “disjunction from reality” is that Rudd ever cared about taking real action on climate change.

    As long as the majority of the debate is Labor vs Liberal (with them both hating the Greens), we are doomed. Great political theatre, but no real action and falling public support for real action.

    I’ve posted many times on Crikey over the last two weeks why I think Rudd has failed (so I’ll not repeat it here). What has genuinely shocked me is that not a single Labor supporter has tired to rebut my points.

    Debate on climate change needs to move beyond party political spin. Reading the comments on Crikey shows me that there is little chance of us doing this.

  • 5
    Posted May 31, 2010 at 10:50 am | Permalink

    The classic tactic in politics when you’re trying to stop something happening is to start talking about the consequences before these are fully developed. So Howard sabotaged the Republic referendum by not asking “do you want a republic?”, but framing it in terms of a particular model of a republic. In this case the right wing media have been banging on about how dealing with climate change is going to increase energy prices. So pensioners are getting worried about rising electricity bills. This is just a distraction, energy bills may rise, but governments may decide to subsidise them, especially for pensioners. I can’t see why the Government didn’t think of this as soon as it was elected and found a strategy to counter it. I guess they weren’t particularly serious.

  • 6
    Posted May 31, 2010 at 10:53 am | Permalink

    The overall picture look as if a lot of those over-50s who favoured action on climate change a couple of years ago were really only ever luke-warm to the idea. And now it’s come to talking tin-tacks on dollars, they think it’s someone else’s problem.

    My own completely un-scientific interpretation of the data is that a large chunk of retirees, self-serving and set in their ways, believe they’ve already done their bit for society and feel entitled to relax in the promised land of gravy for their remaining years.

    The message that the gravy is running dry doesn’t seem to be getting through.

  • 7
    Posted May 31, 2010 at 10:59 am | Permalink

    This is not necessarily hypocrisy. Why should their be a direct relationship between belief in climate change and willingness to pay?

    You seem to assume that climate change is equally everyone’s problem, and that belief in the gravity of climate change should lead to a willingness to pay, no matter who you are, where you live, and under what conditions.

    Is it hypocritical for a poor single mother of three to believe that climate change is a serious environmental problem, but be unwilling to pay for the solution? Most climate policies attempt to shield such people from having to pay more. Why is it so important for them to be willing to pay?

  • 8
    Posted May 31, 2010 at 11:09 am | Permalink

    Re: “The older a person is, the more likely they are to not only be not prepared to pay higher electricity prices, but over the last two years, the older a person is the more likely they were to increase their opposition to paying higher prices.”

    It may be that the cause of this is the marked effect of the GFC on the supers of those who are about to retire, and on the allocated pensions of those who are retired.

    Re: “A full 20% of the those that believed in the need for immediate action that carries with it significant costs weren’t actually prepared to shoulder any of those significant costs themselves via increased electricity prices.”

    True, but the other side of the coin is that 72% were so prepared. And the second point on this goes to the reasons that the 20% were not prepared to assist. One of these reasons might have to do with their ability to shoulder costs.

    Re: “In fact, only 29% of the people that believed in action involving significant costs were willing to pay significant costs themselves in terms of paying $21 or more a month for their electricity.”

    But Poss, $1 – 10 might be a significant cost for many – including many of those who weren’t willing to pay $21 or more per month for their electricity. So, it’s not clear to me that your comment is fair to them. Just not convinced that this case is a case of “rank public hypocrisy”.

  • 9
    Posted May 31, 2010 at 11:10 am | Permalink

    Perhaps. But the data points far more to the over-50s than your “poor single mother of three”.

    I could empathise with pensioners shrieking at the idea of a higher power bill, as pensions are pretty lean already. But I’d be very interested to know what proportion of those older folks who think the costs are someone else’s problem are self-funded retirees.

  • 10
    Posted May 31, 2010 at 11:12 am | Permalink

    Ah, just as I have always said, climate change has very soft support. If asked about doing “something” about climate change, you will probably get an overwhelmingly positive response. When you attach a dollar figure to it, support plummets. This is why ultimately the goal of many environmentalists to utilise climate change as a vehicle to transform society into one which is uncapitalistic is unrealistic since that will never ever happen.

  • 11
    Posted May 31, 2010 at 11:16 am | Permalink

    Reminds me of some polling I saw once where a strong majority of rural people thought they where more independent and self reliant than their urban counterparts, but an equally string majority also thought it was the government’s responsibility to do just about everything for them.

  • 12
    Posted May 31, 2010 at 11:35 am | Permalink

    Hang, there is something that seems completely obvious that seems to be missing in this analysis and (as far as I can see) the comments.

    The point of making (say) making electricity more expensive per Joule is not to increase the monthly cost of everyones power bill! If it simply did that we wouldn’t have changed anything. The point is to provide an economic stick to encourage lower usage and encourage personal investment in energy saving, such as insulation etc. Admitadly putting in insulation or whatever is an additional cost, but it is by definition less than the cost of simply paying the increased electricity price for the same usage.

    Any increase in the price of electricity that resulted in an overall increase in cost per month would be a failed policy, since clearly usage and hence carbon emmisions would have been unchanged (at least not substantially).

    I find it head-slappingly silly that the analysis of ‘what it will cost you’ to fix climate change is usually your current energy usage * the % increase in electricity price per Joule.

  • 13
    Dr Strangelove
    Posted May 31, 2010 at 11:40 am | Permalink


    This data is total hypocrisy. Even if electricity is increasingly subsidised, so there is no real increase – the dollar figure represents a change in lifestyle and consumptive habits that will have to become different in a carbon constrained world.

    Australians don’t like change.

  • 14
    Posted May 31, 2010 at 11:41 am | Permalink

    re calyptorhynchus
    They did think about it and the CPRS did include large compensation for many groups, such as pensioners.

  • 15
    Andrew Steele
    Posted May 31, 2010 at 11:48 am | Permalink

    I was recently at a Politics in the Pub event hosted by the Australia Institute where this question of “people not willing to pay” came up. Richard Denniss’ response was an “ah-hah” moment for me…

    What do most people know about what happens when you have (very) high inflation? The common answer given is Germans after WW1 having to carry a wheelbarrow of cash to buy a loaf of bread. Yeah despite this limited understanding of the impact, we all accept the need for a statutory body (the RBA), at arms length from government, to monitor inflation and when it goes over some threshold to whack every householder with a $100+/month additional cost. We grumble, but accept this. Why should CO2 levels be any different?

    Slightly off topic, the other great example: regarding all the controversy over the accuracy of CO2 predictions 50 years out. Ask an economist to predict what the interest rate, or exchange rate will be in 50 years time. See how they get on.

  • 16
    Posted May 31, 2010 at 11:49 am | Permalink

    Bogdan – on one hand you’re spot on for all the reasons you mention

    On the other hand, cleaner power does cost more.

    Framing questions that neatly encapsulate the distinction between the behaviour of demand curves for high emissions power vs the willingness to shift demand curves to accommodate lower emissions power generation gets a little complicated!

  • 17
    Posted May 31, 2010 at 11:51 am | Permalink

    From what I can tell in this post, the questions were not couched in terms of lifestyle change, or change in consumptive habits. To say that the dollar figures “represent” something like that is ridiculous. You have no way of knowing what symbolic value a survey respondent attributes to questions about dollar amounts. (i.e. bogdanovist@12 makes a very good point).

    I’m sure willingness to pay is a useful insight in certain ways, but it doesn’t necessarily indicate hypocrisy. In the US, surveys repeatedly show that people acknowledge climate change as a serious problem. But when asked to rank it among many other problems, it is way down the list. Does this mean they are hypocrites, or does it mean that the world is full of serious problems, some of which are much more real and pressing for the average Joe?

  • 18
    Posted May 31, 2010 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

    Andrew Steele @15

    That’s a great point on CO2 vs interest rates.

    Note also that retired people like high interest rates..

  • 19
    Troy C
    Posted May 31, 2010 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

    The drought broke. That was the prime mover.

  • 20
    Posted May 31, 2010 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

    @ MWH

    Why Rudd has not failed:

    Kept the economy out of recession
    Created 250,000 jobs
    Kept unemployment below 5.5%
    Ratified Kyoto Protocol
    Apology to stolen generations (supported by 2/3 of the populace)
    Allowed contraceptive counseling for overseas charities
    Provided the first permanent increase to the aged and disability pension since 1991
    Means tested the baby bonus so it isn’t given to millionaires
    Started the National Broadband Network
    Appointed the first ever female Governor General
    Created Infrastructure Australia
    Appointed the first Western Australian High Court Chief Justice
    Invested $3 billion more in rail
    Increased funding to schools
    Set up the MySchool website
    Released a draft national education curriculum (something the Howard government promised for a decade)
    Conducted the first ever study into human right protections in Australia
    Increased funding for ports and highways
    Increase health funding by $50 billion
    Started the clean coal institute
    Agreed with states to increase federal health funding share to 60%
    Attempted to means test the ‘private’ health insurance industry hand out (twice)
    Introduced the first ever federal renewable energy target of 20% by 2020
    Funded 225,000 new computers for schools
    In conjunction with Japan, set up a commission on nuclear non-proliferation
    Funded more water buybacks for the Murray-Darling (this never happened under the Howard government)
    Increase tax on tobacco
    Closed alcopops tax loophole, which has reduced alcohol consumption by about 2.5%.
    Ended the uncompetitive single desk for wheat
    Increased child-care rebate
    Increased funding to universities
    Increased university places for doctors and teachers
    Simplified tax reporting for small business
    Studied whaling in southern oceans
    Taking Japan to court over whaling
    Signed Gorgon Gas project
    Froze parliamentary salaries during GFC
    Attempted to get an ETS
    Increased apprenticeships
    Increased trade training
    Set up trades training centres in schools
    Introducing toughest packaging regime for cigarettes in world
    Fixed overseas student college rort
    Underwrote banks and savings for all Australians
    Increased border protection funding and patrols
    Made some aspects of refugee processing/detention more humane
    Removed TPVs
    Introduced paid parental leave
    Increased community and indigenous housing projects
    Got rid of work choices

  • 21
    Posted May 31, 2010 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

    Of course, the polluters should pay to pollute and the Government should reimburse it to us to cover our increased power bills.

  • 22
    Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)
    Posted May 31, 2010 at 1:46 pm | Permalink


    Of course I can’t answer all your claims here as each rebuttal would take many lines, and I’ve already seen that Labor supporters ignore what I write anyway.

    But to just take a few, from the bottom of your list as I read that as I write:

    “Got rid of work choices” – got rid of hardly describes what he did as many describe the current system as work choices-lite. By OECD standards our industrial relations are still right wing.

    “Increased community and indigenous housing projects” – Rudd has continued with the NT intervention pretty much as Howard started it. I’m sure that the intervention was intended by Howard to be wedge politics – something to split Labor supports into either supporting some action or seeming to be against doing anything by defending human rights etc.

    Perhaps the NT intervention holds the record for the most government spending, the most ignored recommendations from reports, and the least achieved.

    Rudd is like Howard in showing no compassion on asylum seekers and wanting to show the electorate that he is tough. Like Howard he is happy to break international laws to do so.

    As I’ve pointed out many times, Rudd has totally failed on climate change, and as shown by the article above, under his watch public support for action has fallen.

    “Increased funding for ports and railways” – Most of this funding is going into coal and minerals mining rail and ports.

    If Rudd had ever believed in climate change his first budget would have started the massive upgrade to our city public transport that we all know is needed. Instead Rudd still funds city roads and continues the company car subsidies.

    Now I’m not claiming that everyone Rudd has done is bad. I’m sure I could write a list of all the good things achieved by the Howard government.

    But to me the evidence to me is clear – Rudd is a right-wing government pretending to be slightly left.

  • 23
    Posted May 31, 2010 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

    @Jenauthor: You (Along with most other ALP campaigners) forgot to mention keeping smut away from Australian adults through the internet filter.

  • 24
    Chris Twomey
    Posted May 31, 2010 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

    Quick comment on energy prices:

    I wonder how many of those less willing to pay more have been hit with increases in their utilities bills lately which have no connection to climate action?

    In WA I’ve seen some polarisation – with the recent price hikes some might be thinking they don’t want to be slugged twice, and paying more to utilities when they’re not really dealing with the problem anyway…

    My response has been – cool, my investment in PV panels will pay for itself sooner

    … but that’s not about paying the govt or utilities any more to (not) deal with the problem, but rather paying more to deal with it ourselves :)

  • 25
    Posted May 31, 2010 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

    Okay MWH, I get the green slant on everything you say.

    However, for industries that aren’t going to go away (no matter how much we might wish it) it is better that they operate more efficiently … and we can hope that in the long term, changes will come about in terms of climate change.

    The GFC made most people put climate change on the back burner (whether they morally want action or not — when it comes doen to the hip pocket — the hip pocket always comes first — a by-product of our (on the whole) ultra conservative community).

    Stopping industry WILL NOT achieve what you want in terms of climate change. Amending industry will, given time and the correct settings.

    The Howard govt had 12 years to achieve many of the things they ignored and they didn’t have a GFC to contend with in their first term.

    How about you give the Rudd govt 12 years to achieve climate change objectives? What — it’s too urgent? I agree with you. But realistically, whether you like the Rudd govt or not, they are your best chance of action on climate change.

    The Greens have great principles — however, implementation will be impossible in the purest terms that the Greens want. Face it — slow steady steps.

  • 26
    Posted May 31, 2010 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

    @Jenauthor: If Rudd is our best chance for action on climate change, then were all doomed.

    A better situation would be Labor having to negotiate with the greens and independents who can provide a balance to the huge amount of influence the coal industry has on the Labor.

  • 27
    Posted May 31, 2010 at 2:10 pm | Permalink


    To get a majority in the Senate, Labor needs the Greens+Xenophon+Fielding.

    There’s no negotiating with Fielding – he’s the most incompetent Senator to ever disgrace the red leather.

  • 28
    David Richards
    Posted May 31, 2010 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

    MWH – don’t forget the just announced new regime for Centrelink recipients – even more oppressive than Howard era policies.

    Possum – surely you forget Harradine and that ALP Qld senator (forget his name) that caused Hawke a lot of headaches, and the Joh appointee that enabled The Dismissal to occur?

  • 29
    John Bennetts
    Posted May 31, 2010 at 2:33 pm | Permalink


    This is not about you. You have intruded with your tired old list and have now got what you asked for.

    Neither you nor Jenauthor need to argue point by point down the lists – their main purpose is to indicate the variance of opinion and the error in extreme opinion either way. I, for one, welcome the short response to your repetitive one-sided bleatings. As for classifying something right or left wing – why bring that up here? The subject is polling results re GHG production and how to interpret them.

  • 30
    Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)
    Posted May 31, 2010 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

    Well Fielding is the most incompetent Senator ever elected on Labor preferences.

    If you voted 1 Labor above the line on the 2004 Senate paper in Victoria you helped elect him :-)

    It is possible that one or two Liberal Senators (who are not standing for re-election) might have crossed the floor to support some sensible real action on climate change.

    If Rudd had negotiated with the Greens, and the major flaws of the CPRS had been removed, then I would praise Rudd for trying to do something. Rudd could then go to the next election with some credibility even if the good legislation had failed to get through.

    Also it is almost certain that if Rudd had started action on climate change right from the beginning of his term, some things would have got through the Senate. An ETS is only one part of the solution. There are lots of things he could have started whilst still working out the details of the ETS.

  • 31
    Posted May 31, 2010 at 2:36 pm | Permalink


    The reality is that this country has a two party system. I wish it was more balanced and representative — but the system we have is the system we have. That is reality.

    I wholeheartedly agree with Green’s principles. However, reality is that they will never have control of govt. (At least it is very unlikely.)

    Therefore, I say again, that Labor is the more favorable in terms of climate change. Not ideal — granted. But if you must choose which would be more favorable, then Labor is it so long as the luddites and denialists are sitting in the coalition ranks.

  • 32
    Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)
    Posted May 31, 2010 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

    Chris Twomey – Did you know that installing solar cells under Rudd’s scheme results in more carbon pollution?

    That is why the advertising for solar cells no longer includes environmental benefits.

    As you say, it is now cost effective. So if you are only concerned with costs (and not the environment) then you purchased wisely.

  • 33
    Posted May 31, 2010 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

    Even the most one eyed greens supporter knows they won’t control government, the greens aim is to have the balance of power in the senate so that whoever is in power doesn’t have a rubber stamp.

    Also as far as luddites go, Labor is ahead on that front:

    – trying to censor the internet,
    – opposition to R18+ rating for video games
    – Rudds constant moral outrage everytime someone post something on facebook that he thinks is offensive,
    – a technology and communications minister who won’t listen to anyone and has absolutely no clue about his portfolio

  • 34
    Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)
    Posted May 31, 2010 at 3:35 pm | Permalink


    Firstly, there is nothing in the constitution about two-parties.

    Unlike the UK, our preferential voting system enables you to vote 1 for the party who you support most, and also have a full value vote in determining which of the final two candidates wins the seat.

    Voting 1 Labor tells Rudd that he is doing good. If Rudd is confident that the progressive side of politics is no threat he will continue in many areas to counter Abbott by moving to the right and driving Abbott more and more into looney land.

    If you want Rudd to become much more progressive, vote Green. This will change things well before a Green gets elected, because a big rise in the Green vote will be neutralized by Labor by them moving towards more progressive policies.

    I can’t think of any way other than the ballot box to move Rudd towards more progressive policies. Even though a big increase in the Greens vote will elect very few Greens to the lower house, I believe that it will result in change because it will change what Labor does.

  • 35
    Darryl Rosin
    Posted May 31, 2010 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

    “Fielding – he’s the most incompetent Senator to ever disgrace the red leather.”

    What about Albert Field?


  • 36
    Posted May 31, 2010 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

    As I have said before MWH — voting green is a proxy vote to another party — which I won’t do.

    If you actually read what I said, I said that two party is reality. Therefore, facing reality, one must ultimately choose between those two. Whether that is ideal or not, doesn’t really matter. So long as we have our system, that is fact.

    It doesn’t matter how much we WANT it to be different, but it isn’t different — so rather than misreading what I have said, how about trying to understand why I have said what I have said.

    Voting Green, especially in the lower house, is basically p***ing in the wind. That opinion has nothing to do with the validity of their principles and policies. I respect many of them in theory. That opinion comes from facing the REALITY of the system.

    I hate to say it, but the marginality (is that a word?) of many of the Green’s ideas always keeps people who have basically mainstream and in many ways conservative values going back to the two main parties. For them, it is safe (not my personal rationale, though).

    When push comes to shove, the major parties will always fall back to pleasing their base.

  • 37
    Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)
    Posted May 31, 2010 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

    What is the base of Labor?

    It is no longer Howard-lite because we can list things that are worse than Howard.

    If you read what I said, it explained why a vote for other than a major party is not a wasted vote. Note that 20% of Greens voters preference the opposition, so Green is not just a proxy for Labor – it is up to each voter to decide for themselves.

    I’m sure that in 50 or 100 years time, one of the great questions will be “How could they let climate change happen when they knew how bad it would be and they knew it was economically feasible to act?”

    Reading Crikey shows why – because to most people this is all just about politics.

    Jenauthor, if you have kids, one day your children’s children may read what you have written. Do you really think you will have convinced them? I don’t.

  • 38
    Posted May 31, 2010 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

    I didn’t say a proxy vote to Labor — I said it is a proxy vote period.

    I agree with you on climate change — I just don’t think the inflexible stand of the Greens is going to work.

    I don’t talk in theories and philosophies, I am talking reality — THAT is what I am trying to get across to you.

    Your philosophies are fine — I don’t argue with them per se — what I do argue with is the fact that you are operating in a dreamland if you believe that voting Green will make any difference.

  • 39
    Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)
    Posted May 31, 2010 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

    That the Greens are inflexible on climate change is just Labor spin. The Greens will support anything that is a step forward. (The CPRS was more bad than good, and thus not a step forward).

    Earlier you talked about moving forward in small steps. My main point in posting over the last two weeks has been that if Rudd ever cared about climate change many of these smalls steps would have been started right from the very first budget. Yet next to nothing in his first, second, or third budgets.

    The solar cell rebate scheme shows the true Rudd. (I’m still waiting for a justification for this scheme from a Labor supporter).

    I’m talking about reality – Rudd never intended to take real action on climate change, and supporting Rudd’s lack of action dooms Australia to remain one of the worst OECD countries in tackling the issue.

  • 40
    Posted May 31, 2010 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

    The Greens will support anything that is a step forward. (The CPRS was more bad than good, and thus not a step forward).

    Not what I was told when I emailed Senator Milne and asked. I was told that they would not budge on their targets and basically, I could go look at the Green website for their policy.

  • 41
    Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)
    Posted May 31, 2010 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

    jenauthor, we have been exactly here before.

    As I said before, Milne is not going to give away bargaining positions. And unlike the major parties, the Greens policies do give lots of detail, so this really is a good place to look.

    Note that The Greens do have a good track record of negotiation – when Rudd wants to talk. The stimulus package is one very important example. And you can be assured that The Greens did not get all they would have liked in this package!

  • 42
    Posted May 31, 2010 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

    Apologies to anyone reading via RSS comments that are getting some rather odd nonsense coming through.

    I’m getting molested by spam at the moment.

  • 43
    Posted May 31, 2010 at 6:35 pm | Permalink

    I reckon that the influences of “we’ll change when they do” and the volume increase on the “climate change is in doubt” dial is also contributing but I’m wondering, if Australians feel less secure in their employment, economic safety and have lower levels of confidence in the future and their government now than they did a couple of years ago, whether Maslow’s hierarchy of needs thing is in play.

    I suspect that, like in other ‘tragedy of the commons’ situations, the perception of insecurity (economic in this case) is causing people to prioritise protecting their individual wellbeing rather than the communal asset.

    If that’s what is causing the reduction in willingness to pay for programs to counter climate change, it does not bode well for the future, because the economic impacts of climate change are likely to bite hard (are already biting hard?) before people are convinced, and by then they will likely be far more financially or otherwise stressed than now, therefore less willing to contribute toward efforts to combat climate change.

  • 44
    Frank Campbell
    Posted May 31, 2010 at 10:16 pm | Permalink

    The most notable point about these polls is not mentioned by Possum: the trends are levelling out. This confirms the point I’ve made many times on Crikey- that the surge in belief immediately after Gore’s propaganda campaign spawned both cult belief and cult denial: two sides of the same cult. This is now waning and being replaced by conventional partisanship: Left tribalism vs Right. My arguments about the Abbott coup against Turnbull fit this pattern: Turnbull had to go because he was being corralled by Rudd. The Libs were being colonised by the ALP. The Coalition woke up just in time.

    Both sides have now shelved the destructive, self-defeating and useless ETS, so AGW has slid far down the list of priorities. The lack of empirical verification of severe impacts of (undeniable) GW will ensure that things won’t change much politically in the near future. Each side will consolidate its pro and anti AGW position, but there is no imperative for action, and the onus is on the Left. The Right doesn’t have to do anything, just wait. Power prices are critical. My power rates have jumped 15% this year and we can all expect a 40% increase in the next 3 years. Nothing to do with expensive action against AGW. The chances of galvanising the public for costly AGW action should decrease quite rapidly. Given partisan loyalties, this may not have much effect on cult belief/disbelief.

  • 45
    Frank Campbell
    Posted May 31, 2010 at 10:21 pm | Permalink

    To reinforce my points above, note that the flat trend since 2009 includes the Copenhagen fiasco and the East Bumcrack emails.

  • 46
    Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)
    Posted May 31, 2010 at 11:11 pm | Permalink


    I’m not sure what you mean by “empirical verification of severe impacts”, but if you are suggesting that the prudent course of action is to wait until things become much more certain, then that means waiting until it is far too late to prevent severe effects.

    As I mentioned in my comments on the Australia oil leak, the MSM responds very much to the two-party system. The MSM going a bit quiet on climate change is simply responding to Rudd and Abbott putting the issue on hold.

    Lateline has just reported that the primary support for both Liberal and Labor has fallen by two points each, and the Greens are at a record high of 16%.

    I hope this shows that voters are starting to wake-up to our two-party disaster and this increase in Greens vote will continue (or at least hold).

  • 47
    Posted May 31, 2010 at 11:29 pm | Permalink

    “Climate change … is an exercise in rank public hypocrisy”. This is a most telling statement. It results from the media’s 20 years of alarmist reporting of environmentalists’ belief in anthropogenic global warming, and the consequent brainwashing of politicians and a gullible public.
    The environmentalists falsely assume that the atmospheric greenhouse effect is real, and consequently CO2 emissions must be capped. The simple truth is that the greenhouse effect only exists in a greenhouse because convective cooling is eliminated, whereas convection is the major process of heat transfer in the earth’s atmosphere.
    There is no scientific evidence that proves the supposed relationship between CO2 concentration and air temperature in the earth’s atmosphere. Such a relationship only exists in the minds of those who have reached political consensus regarding acceptance of environmentalist ideology. Scientific experiments prove the lack of effect that CO2 content has on air temperature.
    Without the atmospheric greenhouse effect, there is no anthropogenic global warming and, consequently, no need to cap CO2 emissions.

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  1. …] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Possum Comitatus and Steven H, The Lowy Institute. The Lowy Institute said: Crikey's @pollytics on what our results say about public opinions on climate change http://bit.ly/cNoxep #lowypoll2010 […

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