Wildfires push up number of Australians worried about climate change

The Australian fires have burned across an area twice the size of Switzerland while claiming at least 28 lives and destroying thousands of homes.
The Australian fires have burned across an area twice the size of Switzerland while claiming at least 28 lives and destroying thousands of homes.PHOTO: AP

SYDNEY (BLOOMBERG) - The number of Australians concerned about climate change has risen as the country grapples with devastating wildfires, according to a new poll.

Almost four-fifths of Australians surveyed last week said they are concerned about climate change, a five percentage point increase from July, according to The Australia Institute, a public policy think tank which commissioned the poll.

Almost half said they are "very concerned", a 10 percentage points gain.

The proportion of people who said they are experiencing "a lot" of climate change impact in Australia rose 14 percentage points to 57 per cent, while 67 per cent said they believe climate change is making bush fires worse.

"The bush fire crisis has intensified concern about climate change for many Australians, a majority of whom think the country is experiencing the impacts of climate change right here and right now," said Mr Ebony Bennett, the institute's deputy director.

The Australian fires have burned across an area twice the size of Switzerland while claiming at least 28 lives and destroying thousands of homes.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the nation must become more resilient to the impacts of climate change, and proposed a review of the government's response to the wildfire crisis.

One-third of respondents to the institute's survey agreed that the federal government has done a good job of managing the climate crisis, while more than half disagreed.

Approval ratings for Mr Morrison, who says the country won't do more to cut its carbon emissions, have tumbled over his handling of the wildfires, according a separate poll.

 

The Climate of the Nation poll surveyed more than 1,000 people between Jan 8 and 12.