(Australian Associated Press)
Australians are becoming increasingly worried about climate change, with concern about the issue almost doubling in the past year.
Researchers at the Scanlon Foundation ask Australians to name their biggest concern every year.
This year, 19 per cent of respondents nominated climate change, up from 10 per cent in 2018.
However, the economy is still front of mind for most Australians.
Soaring concerns about the environment and climate change appear even more pronounced among younger Australians.
A Mission Australia report released on Tuesday showed environmentalism was the second most important issue behind mental health for people aged between 15 to 19 years old.
The annual survey found concerns about the state of the planet tripled in the past year.
A new Essential poll also shows the majority of Australians believe climate change is caused by human activity and the country is not doing enough to fix it.
Most Australians also believe the recent bushfires in NSW and Queensland were linked to climate change, and consider it appropriate to debate the link.
When the Scanlon Foundation first started asking people about their concerns in 2011, climate change hovered around six per cent.
In 2019, the economy was the number one concern at 28 per cent, followed by climate change at 19, then social issues at eight per cent.
“The only other time where we’ve seen such a big jump was in 2015,” Professor Andrew Markus told AAP.
That year, the country was confronted by the Lindt Cafe siege and other terrorism issues.
“In that year, concern about terrorism and security went from one to 10,” Professor Markus said.
“This time, we’ve gone from 10 to 19 (on climate) in one year. I think that’s quite significant.”
Concern about the climate was highest amongst young adults, with 43 per cent of 18 to 24-year-olds naming it as their number one issue.
But it was lowest amongst 35 to 44-year-olds and over-75s at 12 per cent and eight per cent, respectively.
The survey of more than 3500 Australians was taken shortly after the federal election in May, following a heightened debate around environmental issues.
It also found that while the majority of Australians felt immigration was a good thing for the economy, views on migrant intakes and the knock-on impact for roads and rail were negative.
Australians’ trust in the federal government’s ability to do the right thing by people has remained flat, having hovered around 30 per cent since 2017.
“The level of trust is at a low level but it has not gone down further,” Professor Markus said.