Climate myths thrive in Australia: survey

Australians are clinging to a bunch of myths about climate change including what's causing it.

A new survey, released on Tuesday, shows 44 per cent of Australians don't accept human activity is the main cause of climate change.

Of those, 34 per cent say humans are only partly to blame and the other 10 per cent say humans are not involved at all.

Another five per cent insist the climate isn't changing.

Of 1200 Australian adults polled in October, close to 40 per cent falsely insist the scientific community remains divided and a significant number of scientists disagree on the cause.

About 43 per cent say oil and gas are essential components of Australia's economy and it will be impossible to do without them.

And 34 per cent believe natural gas - which is a fossil fuel - is a climate-friendly energy source.

The Australian results are part of an international survey by the Climate Action Against Disinformation and the Conscious Advertising Network, which aims to quantify how climate misinformation affects public perception.

The survey suggests the Albanese government has a big job to get Australians to lock in behind its promise to achieve net zero emissions by 2050.

The survey shows 29 per cent of respondents believe "Australia cannot afford to reach the target of net zero emissions by 2050" and 28 per cent blame climate and net-zero policies for rising power bills.

Roughly one third of the Australian respondents also backed a focus on technologies such as carbon capture and storage over actual emissions cuts.

The release of the survey coincides with the COP27 climate summit in Egypt, and comes with an open letter demanding urgent, global action to tackle climate misinformation and disinformation.

"Vested economic and political interests continue to organise and finance climate misinformation and disinformation to hold back action," says the letter, which has been signed by climate action groups and campaigners.

They include WWF International, Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, who chairs the International Union for Conservation of Nature's recently formed Climate Crisis Commission, and veteran Australian climate scientist Bill Hare.

The letter cites a recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report that warned about scientifically misleading information pedalled by "organised counter-movements".

The report said misinformation had fuelled polarisation and partisan divides on climate change in many countries and that it could hinder new and more ambitious climate policies.

The research also involved surveys in Brazil, India, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Overall results across the six countries showed a significant gap between public perception and the science on issues as basic as whether climate change exists and whether it's mainly caused by humans.

The Australian component of the survey was done in late October and the margin of error is plus or minus 3.1 per cent.