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What women (and men) want. The climate change edition.

By MELISSA WELLHAM

Climate change. The ‘climate change lie’. The carbon tax. The emissions trading scheme. The melting icecaps. The polar bears. The fact that soon we won’t have pasta.

Climate change is (still) a hot topic. Literally. But unfortunately, it’s also a highly politicised one.

Amidst all this noise, it can be difficult to know what the people in Australia who aren’t politicians think. What they are really worried about, and what they think we should be doing to combat it.

The Climate Institute has released a new study, Climate of the Nation 2013, which reveals that two-thirds of people think that climate change is actually happening – and of that group, almost everyone thinks that it is affecting us right now.

Respondents to the survey were particularly concerned by the impact of climate change on food prices, and insurance premiums being affected by extreme weather.

The survey from the Climate Institute also broke down answers from respondents according to gender, which makes for some interesting comparisons.

Although a similar number of men and women agree that climate change is occurring (65 per cent of men, and 66 per cent of women), men are also more likely to believe that climate change is not occurring (18 per cent), whereas women are more likely to say that they’re not sure (17 per cent).

In regards to concerns about the impact of climate change, 63 per cent of women report being concerned about the environmental impacts, such as extreme weather – whereas only 55 per cent of men are concerned. Maybe men are more likely to think they can weather the storm?

As far as the cost of living is concerned, 69 per cent of women are worried that their daily expenses will rise as a result of climate change – and 62 per cent of men are worried, too.

But, although men are more likely to believe that the seriousness of climate change is being exaggerated, men are also feel more positively about carbon pricing than women. A third of men interviewed in the survey report supporting carbon pricing.

Further, 35 per cent of men are worried that “if we get rid of carbon pricing, we lose the opportunity to get ahead of other countries in the development of smarter and cleaner technologies”.

Overall, however, participants in the survey were not inclined to believe that Labor had an effective plan to tackle climate change. 30 per cent of men believed they had an effective plan, and 23 per cent of women thought the same – but the rest of individuals who answered the survey were varying shades of unsure and ‘hell no’.

Of course, this survey was conducted in June this year – before Kevin Rudd announced that the Labor party would be ‘scrapping’ the Carbon Tax, and returning to a plan for an Emissions Trading Scheme. This switch from Labor has, unsurprisingly, left a lot of people wondering what is actually going on.

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The proposed ETS will be “a floating carbon price”. Rudd says the move will save families an approximate $380 per year – or $1.04 per day.

The changes to the Carbon Tax would mean that the average household is likely to save $150 per year on electricity bills, and $57 per year on gas bills.

In reality, the introduction of a floating carbon price was always a part of the Carbon Tax plan – but is now being introduced a year ahead of schedule.

Mark Butler, the Climate Change Minister, has announced that there are approximately 370 businesses who will be liable to pay under the ETS, and that they will see a 75 per cent reduction in their carbon price liability. For businesses, this essentially means that carbon will ‘cost’ $6 per tonne, as opposed to $24 per tonne.

However, the cost to the budget will be $3.8 billion over a period of four years.

To introduce the ETS, Rudd will have to amend the Carbon tax legislation – which effectively means that his announcement is an ‘election pledge’.

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott

The Coalition’s plan to combat climate change – the $3.2 billion Direct Action plan – may have been called [insert expletitive here] by Malcolm Turnbull in the past – but is still being criticised by some members of the party as economically irresponsible.

The Direct Action plan involves giving financial incentives to companies that cut their carbon emissions, and would cost $3.2 billions over four years. The Coalition’s plan also involves using soils to ‘store’ carbon, which is intended to contribute to 60 per cent of their emissions reductions.

Fairfax has reported that some representatives from the independent Climate Commission have mocked this as “soil magic”, and said such science will not solve climate change.

Regardless of which political party you support, it is clear that the issue of climate change is not ‘so 2007’ for most Australians. Yes, people are sick of partisan bickering. Yes, people are sick of feeling like they’re being duped.

But people are not fed up with climate change as an issue that needs addressing – they’re fed up with inaction.

More people believe that climate change is occurring, than not. And they think that something needs to be done – hopefully sometime soon.

What would you do about climate change if you were in charge?

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