The NSW community's concern over climate change has doubled over 12 months according to new research released by the Department of Environment and Climate Change NSW (DECC).
The telephone survey, Who Cares About Water and Climate Change in 2007? was conducted in mid 2007 as a follow-up to the Who Cares About the Environment in 2006? survey.
The 2007 survey found that respondents' attitudes had significantly shifted over the previous 12 months, most probably due to the substantial media attention given to the topics of drought, water resources and climate change during the second half of 2006, particularly after the release of Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth and the UK Government's Stern Review.
The key changes in attitude in 2007 include:
- Climate change appeared as a general issue for state government attention for the first time since the Who Cares About the Environment? series began in 1994. In addition, those who nominated climate change as an important environmental issue doubled from 13 per cent in 2006 to 26 per cent in 2007
- Two-thirds of people (67 per cent) mentioned water conservation issues as one of the top two environmental issues compared to 57 per cent in 2006, despite the survey being conducted after heavy rain in June 2007
- Climate change ranked second only to water as the most important environmental issue.
A new set of questions on climate change and its impacts were added to the survey in 2007. Some key findings from these questions include:
- More than half of those respondents who said climate change will have some impact, believe it is impacting now on themselves and their children, on people living elsewhere in Australia and on people living in other countries
- People think climate change will particularly impact their food and water supplies and household budgets. Three-quarters of those who think climate change will impact on themselves and their children say there will be a great deal or fair amount of impact on each of these aspects of their life
- Younger people in particular have embraced the climate change issue with 28 per cent of 15 to 24 year olds saying this is one of the top two issues for state government compared to 2-6 per cent of other age groups. Half (49 per cent) of 15 to 24 year olds included climate change in their top two environmental issues, compared to 18-30 per cent of other age groups.
- On the question of who should take most responsibility for preventing human-induced climate change, 93 per cent nominated the federal government, 88 per cent nominated state government, and 68 per cent nominated individuals.
The social research series, Who Cares about the Environment? measures the environmental knowledge, attitudes and behaviour of the people of NSW. It has been conducted every three years since the first survey in 1994, with the latest main round of research conducted in 2006.
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For information and copies of Who Cares...? materials: