Australians are massively changing their attitudes towards climate change, but are reluctant to change their diet to help the environment, a Monash University study finds.
More than double the number of Australians have expressed alarm over climate change over the past decade, with women more likely to adopt a more climate-friendly diet than men, according to the report ‘Climate Change: Concern, Behavior and The Six Australias”.
This report compares the data with studies conducted in 2011, 2016 and 2020 to determine if there have been changes in attitudes towards climate change and behaviors of Australians.
The report draws on the Six Americas framework, developed by Yale, to group audiences on a spectrum based on their beliefs, attitudes and actions on climate change – from alarmed to dismissive.
Published this week by the Monash Climate Change Communication Research Hub, it revealed that more than 80% of Australians surveyed are either cautious, concerned or alarmed about climate change.
Of these, 31% of respondents belong to the Climate Alarmed segment, compared to 25% in 2020 and 14% in 2011.
Women lead over men on voting based on environmental issues, 50% and 36% respectively, while men are more likely to take a hands-on approach to reducing their footprint by using less gas or insulating their house.
Not surprisingly, young adults are more likely than older Australians to vote on environmental issues, donate money to environmental groups and participate in civic activities.
The report also outlines the behaviors people are willing to change in the face of climate change, with 40% having no intention of switching to a more sustainable diet. While respondents were the most reluctant to make a dietary change, 26% want to but haven’t yet.
Yet 32% of women surveyed had changed their diet compared to just 18% of men, contributing to the 24% of total respondents who have ever changed their diet.
Author and researcher Lucy Richardson says a big shift in community attitudes is needed for Australians to adopt healthy and sustainable diets, including eating less meat and more plant-based foods, and ensuring food is produced sustainably with low greenhouse gas emissions, to help respond to climate change.
“We really need to better understand this resistance to changing our diets, particularly around eating less meat, and how communities can be better supported to be more sustainable,” Dr Richardson said.
“While there is growing concern about climate change, this does not always translate into action. People tend to do the easiest things, which is understandable, but there is still a lot to be done. .
“The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report on mitigating climate change released earlier this year also indicates that shifting to sustainable diets is a critical way for all of us to help fight climate change. climate change, but this new report shows that Australians still have a long way to go.”
While 80% of the 3,098 respondents took action on climate change, only 10% took “a lot of action” compared to 30 and 40% respectively, engaging in “moderate” or “little action”.
Turning off the lights at home was the most common behavior change within the home at 86%, followed by 76% of people reducing their gas and electricity use and food waste.
Forty-five percent of respondents have switched to environmentally friendly products in their homes, while only 13% of respondents have purchased carbon offsets to reduce their carbon footprint.
But there has been a move towards green energy with over 35% of respondents planning to buy or already buying renewable energy, 17% would like to use it while 20% do not plan to.
The report also reveals that the dismissive segment has remained below 10% since 2011.
The 2022 study identified other changes within these segments:
- 2022 saw the highest proportion, to date, of Australians alarmed by climate change, at 31% compared to 25% in 2020 and 14% in 2011.
- The number of Australians disengaged from climate change has fallen from 6% in 2011 to 2% in 2022.
- There are fewer questionable Australians in 2022 at 9%, down from 15% in 2011.
Climate change: concern, behavior and the six Australias. www.monash.edu/mcccrh/research … d-the-six-australias
Provided by Monash University
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