Photo by Li-An Lim on Unsplash

Around 70 per cent of Australians expect the government to put the environment centre stage in its pandemic recovery, according to a new Ipsos survey, reflecting the significant media coverage of this idea.

“The idea that the recovery should be led by projects that support the green economy has gained a lot of media attention,” Ipsos Australia director Stuart Clark said.

Mr Clark will also be interested to see how this plays out as people start to feel the pinch financially, with data from the global financial crisis showing that focus on climate change in Australia dropped dramatically as economic concerns became the top priority.

Despite most Australians backing a green recovery, there’s been few signs that the government will act accordingly. The committee appointed to steer the recovery is populated densely with business leaders from fossil fuel industries, for a start, and recovery stimulus so far does not seem to be flowing freely into projects that promote positive social or environmental outcomes.

For example, many consider the HomeBuilder scheme announced last week as a lost opportunity to upgrade the energy performance of homes and boost affordable housing supplies, and with a starting price of $150,000 for renovations to qualify for the subsidy, it also seems tipped towards the wealthier end of town.

Green recovery supported around the globe

The survey is global with 16 countries surveyed overall. In Australia, results sit alongside those of other countries with three in four of the 16,000 surveyed in late May agreeing that recovery activity should be funnelled into projects that support the green economy.

Emerging countries were the most likely to back a green recovery, including 91 per cent of surveyed Chinese people, followed by India and Mexico (89 per cent), Brazil (85 per cent), and South Africa (84 per cent).

The countries most likely to disagree with the notion of a green economy-led recovery, include Germany (36 per cent), South Korea (29 per cent), Japan and Russia (27 per cent), the United States and Canada (23 per cent).

Complicating this sentiment is whether or not people think that protecting the environment is at the top or the bottom of their personal list of priorities right now. Around half of Australians think it’s a top priority, with this sentiment highest in many European countries including Germany and France (67 per cent), Mexico (65 per cent), Spain and South Africa (60 per cent).

Link acknowledged between health and environment

Mr Clark says that Australians see “a strong connection” between the health of the environment and their own wellbeing, with 81 per cent of respondents agreeing that environmental issues such as pollution, climate change and deforestation threaten our health and wellbeing.

Four in five respondents globally agree that there’s a link between health and environmental issues.

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