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Public concern over climate change hits new high

The number of New Zealanders who think climate change is an urgent issue facing the country has reached its highest level in 13 years of poll tracking.

Horizon Research says 43% of adults now regard the issue as “urgent”, up from 8% when the company first started asking this question in 2006.

26% think it is a “problem now”, up from 16% in 2006.

The numbers for those who think it’s a “problem for the future” or “not a problem” have also fallen dramatically over the past 13 years:

• In 2006, 37% thought climate change was a problem for the future. 13% think this now

• In 2006, 37% also thought climate change was not a problem, down to 11%.

Overall, the latest tracking survey of 990 adults nationwide, conducted in March, finds 69% of adults, around 2,207,282 million people, think climate change is urgent or a problem for now. 24% in March thought it was a problem for later or not a problem equating to around 767,750 people.

Horizon Research says the most dramatic change in the past year has been in the number saying it is “urgent”. This is up from 29% in March 2018 to 43% in March 2019.

The survey results come as the government announces details of its Zero Carbon Bill dealing with how climate change and emissions will be managed in the future.

The 2019 survey finds voters for four of the five parties now in Parliament strongly believe climate change is urgent or a problem for now.

Only those who voted ACT believe it is not.

The result indicates a strong majority of National voters believe it is a problem, which could give its MPs some confidence for any multi-party policy solutions they may support. National MPs are reportedly yet to decide if they will support the bill.


60% of New Zealand First voters think it’s an urgent issue or problem for now, 27% think it is a problem for later or not problem. Results for other parties’ voters are

National 56% problem/ 35% not a problem

Labour 71%/ 21%

Green 88%/ 11%

ACT 83% not a problem/ 16% a problem.

Business concern

Business concern over climate change is also high: 82% of business managers and executives think it’s a problem urgent, along with 66% of business proprietors and self-employed.

Among farm owners and managers, the indicative result (because of the small number sampled) is that 22% think it’s not a problem, while 27% think it is (2% urgent). However, 48% say they “don’t know”, which could indicate a reluctance to make a choice on an issue with major potential implications for their businesses.

The survey was conducted by Horizon Research has a public service between March 7 and 31, 2019.

With 990 respondents 18+ representing the adult population at the 2013 census, the maximum margin of error, at a 95% confidence level, is +/- 3.1%.

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