Aussies support net zero emissions by 2050

Rebecca Gredley and Colin Brinsden
·2-min read

More than two-thirds of Australians support achieving net zero emissions by 2050, according to newly released polling.

The Ipsos climate change report released on Monday shows 71 per cent of those surveyed support the government's commitment to targets for the Paris Agreement.

The Morrison government's current goal is for a 26 to 28 per cent reduction on 2005 emissions levels by 2030.

The survey shows 69 per cent support a target of net zero emissions by 2050, with 54 per cent thinking Australia should transition to a carbon neutral economy as soon as possible.

Some 1000 Australians were surveyed in January for the poll, with follow-up questions taking place last month.

The follow-up survey showed concern for climate change has continued to grow during the coronavirus pandemic, in contrast to a drop in care for the issue in the wake of the global financial crisis.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has flagged a change in the government's climate policies by the end of the year, as Australia is currently an outlier without a clear net zero emissions goal.

Mr Morrison talked up Australia's climate and environment credentials in a speech at a G20 event overnight.

He stressed the importance of safeguarding the planet for future generations.

"We must pursue economic models that support growth and sustainability," the prime minister told other world leaders.

Labor has net zero by 2050 in its sights but hasn't announced an interim target or the pathway, pledging to reveal details before the next election.

The issue has been divisive for Labor, but Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese is using the swell of business and overseas support for net zero in his favour.

"The world is moving on. And Scott Morrison's just frozen in time while the world warms around him," he told reporters in Melbourne.

It comes as a new report shows heat stress from rising temperatures and changing weather patterns poses risks for many Australian workers, and not just for those who have outside jobs.

The Australia Institute's Centre for Future Work report found there were four groups of workers at high risk of heat stress:

* Weather-exposed outdoor workers

* Emergency workers and firefighters facing situational extreme heat

* Workers moving between extreme heat and cold

* Inside workers in environments with poor climate control

Associate at the centre Elizabeth Humphrys said last summer's devastating bushfires highlighted policies were not always in place to protect workers from dangerous heat stress.

"Workers need to be afforded greater protections to ensure their health and safety are paramount in extreme heat conditions," she said.

Around 400,000 workers in greater Sydney alone are in heat-exposed industries such as manufacturing, construction and transport.

The report recommends Australian federal and state governments urgently review how climate change impacts are managed for workers.