16 Nov 2009: New research shows Australians from city and country want more action on climate change

As Senate debate begins on the hotly contested emissions trading scheme researchers from the University of Technology Sydney are taking the message to political leaders that ordinary people want less talk and more action on climate change.

Today sees the release of a research report on the Australian and international results of a global consultation called “World Wide Views on Global Warming” – a world-first attempt at seeking views live and in person in 38 countries.

“This work stands apart from other recent surveys by Pew Centre and Lowy Institute that imply interest in climate change is wavering. The opposite is in fact, true. When people have access to information and they understand our political choices, they urge decisive action from their leaders,” said Professor Stuart White, Director of the University’s Institute for Sustainable Futures.

“An example of this is how 89% of our group thinks that developed countries around the world should make emissions cuts of 25% or higher by 2020, knowing full well that this will mean belt-tightening for all of us.” White explained.

Paul Toni, Development and Sustainability Manager for WWF-Australia, a supporting sponsor for the event says “I think people were able to relate the choices being made at Copenhagen – choices pertaining to the fundamentals for protecting their way of life; whether that’s a Asian fishing village or a Melbourne suburb. World Wide Views on Global Warming gave ordinary Australian citizens an important, contributing voice on climate change.”

The consultation was not amongst a select group of city-dwellers either. The collection of randomly-selected participants included people from Maitland in NSW’s coal district, from Noosaville, Toowoomba, Port Macquarie, Humpty Doo and Harvey in WA.  The group represented Australia’s diversity, with people from all States, ages and backgrounds taking part. They joined over 4,000 people in 38 countries, looking in detail at the kind of questions the UN negotiators will be considering in Copenhagen in December.

"We're at a fork in the road on climate change," Professor White said. "It is not clear yet whether Australia will be going into the most important international talks this generation with a domestic commitment to curb emissions or not. And, if we end up with a compromised scheme, it won't live up to the expectations of the majority of the community and the international players.”

Europe is already talking about 20% cuts by 2020 and Japan’s prime minister has promised 25% cuts by 2020, and Australia has the possibility of a 25% cut by 2020 on the table. This exercise in global democracy backs up leadership positions of deep cuts.

The World Wide Views on Global Warming is unique in the field of community engagement, initiated by the Danish Board of Technology people got to review the real science and to deliberate with their peers before casting their vote.

Across the world, the ripples of this consultation are being felt. The Global Policy Report will be released on November 19 at the Danish Parliament, with a debate by ambassadors from China, Egypt, India, Uganda, Chile and Indonesia.

The Australian Prime Minister is now a “Friend of the Chair” for Copenhagen talks working with other like-minded world leaders to try and get an agreement. So we are in a good position to carry forwards the views of our community while collaborating with other countries. This means overcoming national agendas and working for fair and decisive action.

For Interviews, contact:

Rebecca Short, Media Liaison, ISF, 0415 156 409  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it