A new report has found that Australians, despite being largely undecided on climate change, show overwhelming support for the development of renewables, citing solar, wind and hydro as among their preferred future energy sources, and ranking coal below nuclear in the ideal energy mix.
The study, “Climate of the Nation 2012,” released today by The Climate Institute, found that Australians remained confused about climate science and unconvinced about carbon pricing solutions – although were “still ‘up for grabs’ on both,” apparently – but were clear on one thing, according to Climate Institute CEO John Connor: that their “vision for a low-carbon future is one that taps into the nation’s abundant renewable energy resource.”
Connor said the report’s findings show there is overwhelming support for renewables, in terms of emission reduction and in ideal energy mix, as well as energy efficiency measures for industry and households.
The report found that solar was the preferred energy source for Australia, with 81 per cent of respondents placing it in their top three preferred options, when presented with nine sources to choose from (see Figure 1 below).
Wind energy was the second most preferred option, with 59 per cent placing it in their top three preferred options, while 44 per cent placed hydro energy within their top three preferred sources (and a further 45 per cent placed it within the next three most preferred options, i.e. as either 4th, 5th or 6th most preferred).
The report found respondents split over gas, with 28 per cent placing it in the top three most preferred sources, while 31 per cent put it in their three least preferred energy options. Opinion was similarly divided for geothermal and tidal sources, it said.
There was no such ambivalence about coal, however, which was clearly the least energy preferred option, with 66 per cent of respondents putting it in their three least preferred options, below nuclear. Nuclear was also unpopular, with 64 per cent putting it in their least preferred options, it received the most negatively skewed preference vote: 46 per cent placed nuclear in last place, naming it as their least preferred option whereas 22 per cent placed coal as least preferred (however, 30 per cent placed coal as second least preferred).
The report also found that respondents perceived increasing the amount of renewable energy as the most effective greenhouse gas emission reduction policy.