Most Sydneysiders still want government to lead on climate change adaptation

Fire-affected tree resprouting after Black Summer fires

A new survey by Western Sydney University of more than 6,000 Greater Metropolitan Sydney residents has found most residents are looking to government to lead on climate change issues.

The survey from the University’s Institute for Culture and Society found broad support for government led action following multiple environmental crises from the drought to bushfires, floods and the COVID-19 pandemic. Survey partners included the Future Earth Australia and Sydney Environment Institute.

The report found that environmental issues are deeply affecting community wellbeing with 100 per cent of respondents stating that the 2019/2020 bushfire crisis affected their sense of wellbeing either through public health and mental health impacts on the general population (66 per cent) or through economic impacts in their areas of residence (26 per cent).

However, of the major environmental issues affecting communities, respondents across all LGAs placed extreme weather events (28 per cent) and waste, rubbish and dirty streets (22 per cent) over loss of flora and fauna (16 per cent) and lack of access to safe water supply (13 per cent).

Lead author of the survey, Professor Juan Francisco Salazar, said that the findings demonstrate the importance and impact of sound climate leadership at all levels of government.

“The majority of respondents agreed that it is important for planners and policymakers to take community knowledge and preferences into consideration in adaptation planning, and there was strong support for integrating the experience and knowledge of climate adaptation of First Nations Australians,” Professor Salazar said.

“Most Sydneysiders are less concerned with whether the Federal Government or the State Government takes action, as long as government agencies work together collaboratively to address urgent climate change and climatic threats.”

Respondents also felt strongly about several other environmentally-related issues that may be affected by climate change, citing ‘provision of access to clean safe water’ as a high priority, along with ‘promoting local employment, ‘equity in access to quality education’, and ‘investment in renewable energy’.

The survey also identified how respondents obtained information about the state of climate initiatives, revealing that most respondents are using the internet and cultural institutions, highlighting the importance of effective science communication in delivering accurate information.

“Sydneysiders have been shocked by the impact and scale of environmental crises that keep rolling over our city,” said Professor Salazar.

“The time is now that residents expect serious actions from the top levels of Federal and State governments before it is too late”.


21 April 2021

David Thompson - Media Officer (0429 951 552)