Poles apart: political divisions over climate change among younger Australians
Tranter, B and Skribis, Z and Smith, J, Poles apart: political divisions over climate change among younger Australians, Journal of Applied Youth Studies, 3 pp. 255-273. ISSN 2204-9193 (2020) [Refereed Article]
Political polarisation over anthropogenic climate change (ACC) is an important barrier
to climate action in countries such as Australia and the USA. Given the rising concerns
expressed by younger people globally over the existential threat posed by global
warming, are political divisions over climate change lessening among young people?
Are young Australians more knowledgeable about climate change than their elders, and
to what extent does knowledge influence their climate attitudes? We explore these
questions with recent survey data from a cohort of young Australians (aged 26) living
in Queensland and national data from the 2018 Australian Survey of Social Attitudes.
We find that younger Australians are not more knowledgeable about climate change
than older Australians. However, knowledge of climate change is associated with
greater acceptance of ACC among younger Australians. Social and political factors
are also important. Young men score higher on climate knowledge than young women,
but men are less likely than women to accept that climate change has human causes.
Those with vocational education score lower than others on climate knowledge and are
also less likely to believe in ACC. While younger Australians are likelier to accept
ACC than older Australians, political party allegiance remains the strongest influence
upon the attitudes of young people, with Liberal and National Party identifiers far less
likely than others to accept ACC, even after controlling for social background and
climate knowledge. This research suggests that politics remains the greatest barrier to
real action on climate change, even among younger Australians.
climate change, polar knowledge, climate change knowledge, political party identification; young people, Australia