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Climate Governance Environment

Poll shows Australians want more climate aid for developing countries

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The majority of Australians (61%) think our government should be doing more to support low-income countries in the face of climate change, according to new polling from YouGov on behalf of the aid organisation CARE Australia.

Most people also think rich countries have contributed the most to climate change, though many Australians underestimate how our per capita emissions compare to other industrialised countries, such as the US and China.

CARE Australia CEO, Peter Walton, said: “As we head into COP26, we need to be talking about the fundamental injustice of climate change. The people who have done the least to cause it — including people living in poverty, women and other marginalised groups — are feeling the effects the most.

“Our Pacific Island neighbours, for instance, have contributed minimally to climate change yet they are paying the price via rising sea-levels, increasingly severe cyclones, and threatened reefs.

“This poll is a clear indication that the Australian public sees this injustice and wants our Government to do more to make it right.”

The poll was conducted between 24 and 27 September and surveyed a nationally representative sample of 1,025 Australian residents aged 18 and over. Findings include:

  • 61% of Australians think our government should do more to help poorer countries in the face of climate change (26% disagree, 13% don’t know)
  • 64% of Australians think rich countries have contributed the most to climate change and should be doing the most to combat it (22% disagree, 14% don’t know)
  • 58% of Australians think climate change impacts poor people more than wealthy people (28% disagree, 15% don’t know know)
  • 61% of Australians think people in Pacific Island countries face the most risk from disasters fuelled by climate change (16% disagree, 23% don’t know)
  • Only 14% of Australians correctly state that Australia’s per capita emissions are higher than China’s (Australia emits 15.5 metric tonnes of CO2 per capita, China emits 7.4)

In its new report, Making Things Right, CARE Australia calls on the Australian Government to listen to the public and increase funding to support low-income countries to deal with climate change. Funding should be in addition to, not instead of, existing aid projects.

Additional funding could improve infrastructure to withstand disasters and rising sea-levels, strengthen early-warning systems, and train people in adaptive farming and fishing techniques.

In recognition that women are particularly vulnerable to the climate crisis, CARE recommends at least 20% of funding go to projects that specifically target women and address gender inequality.

The US, UK and Canada have all doubled their climate finance commitments in 2021.

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