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New Zealanders divided on climate change impacts and action

As the COP24 climate conference gets underway to decide the ‘rulebook’ for how countries will implement the Paris Agreement, research commissioned by the Ministry for the Environment reveals most New Zealanders think climate change is an important issue but only a third are concerned enough to do something about it.

Findings from an April Colmar Brunton baseline study, released under an OIA request, reflect a significant split in how New Zealanders view climate change. A majority of the population is unfamiliar with or sceptical about the science. 48% didn’t believe climate change would have a big impact on them.

On the other hand, one in three are seriously or extremely concerned and committed to taking action. Overall, there is 62% support for more ambitious emissions reduction targets. Only 18% of those interviewed believed the Government is doing enough to combat climate change.

Primary barriers to people taking action and supporting more ambitious emissions targets were concerns about costs to the taxpayer, impacts on the economy and lack of information on how climate change would affect people and their communities.

A follow-up survey in September found that more people believed the climate science and that climate change was likely to have an impact on people like them (56%), likely reflecting increased national and international media coverage of the issue.

Only a quarter of those interviewed believe technology would solve problems arising from climate change, indicating an increased commitment to take personal action and expectations the Government should to do more to address emissions.


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