Essential Research: bushfires, climate change and asylum seekers

A new poll finds respondents clearly of the view that not enough is being done to tackle climate change, but with opinion divided as to whether it appropriate to debate the matter in the context of the bushfire emergency.

The Essential Research poll series continues to chug along on its fortnightly schedule without offering anything on voting intention, with this week’s survey mainly relating to bushfires and climate change. Support for the proposition that Australia is not doing enough to address climate change have reached a new high of 60%, up nine since March, with “doing enough” down five to 22% and “doing too much” down three to 8%.

However, perceptions of climate change itself are little changed, with 61% attributing it to human activity (down one) and 28% opting for “a normal fluctuation in the earth’s climate”. On the debate as to whether it was appropriate to raise links between climate change and bushfires, opinion was evenly divided – out of those who considered such a link likely, 43% felt raising the matter appropriate compared with 17% for inappropriate, while another 30% rated the link as unlikely.

A further question related to the issue of medical evacuations for asylum seekers, and here the situation is murkier due to the need to provide respondents with some sort of explanation of what the issue is about. As the Essential survey put it, the relevant legislation allows “doctors, not politicians, more say in determining the appropriate medical
treatment offered to people in offshore detention”. Put like that, 62% were opposed to the government’s move to repeal it, including 25% who believed the legislation didn’t go far enough. That left only 22% in favour of the pro-government proposition that “legislation will weaken our borders and result in boats arriving”.

The poll was conducted Thursday to Sunday from a sample of 1083.

Author: William Bowe

William Bowe is a Perth-based election analyst and occasional teacher of political science. His blog, The Poll Bludger, has existed in one form or another since 2004, and is one of the most heavily trafficked websites on Australian politics.

1,314 comments on “Essential Research: bushfires, climate change and asylum seekers”

  1. Firefoxsays:
    Friday, November 29, 2019 at 1:28 pm

    I like them too, but there is considerable modelling involved in ensuring that either wind or solar location has enough of the resource to be profitable. If delivering a financial return is not a consideration then definitely go as many differing sources as possible on one site.

    Some non-coastal sites just do not have enough wind to be financially viable. And yes it can be windy on cloudy days but it also can be still. If definitely can be windy at night at any time 🙂

  2. I wonder if Stuart Robert knows what he means by this gobbledegook.

    Stuart Robert MP
    @stuartrobertmp
    To recap, having a whole of govt architecture allows us to build an ontology of capabilities across govt.
    Coupled with a more agile funding model, it will allow us to move more quickly when trying new solutions and capabilities or scaling up platforms to address emerging needs.

    ***
    Importantly for our customers, it will allow us to organise services around their needs, circumstances and life events, rather than our own government structures.
    This is fundamental for delivering the vision of the Digital Transformation Strategy.

  3. Firefox,

    There are only a few locations where wind+solar hybrid farms make sense.

    Add cheap storage and they can stack up, because of the reduction in transmission capital costs.

  4. Dandy Murray @ #1048 Friday, November 29th, 2019 – 1:33 pm

    The technical challenge is to get solar and wind to dance with the system and the fleet of industry plant and consumer devices. That’s in hand, but throwing up some interesting challenges.

    That is certainly one technical challenge. Here is another:

    How do we get the world to do something about the fact that we may have already emitted sufficient carbon to ensure catastrophic global warming, and if we have not yet, will do so within a decade or so?

    Do we …

    (a) stop digging up thermal coal, which is the single largest but also the most easily replaced source of carbon emissions;

    – or –

    (b) open up the largest new thermal coal mine on the planet, and subsidize it so that coal becomes even cheaper to use?

    This is a difficult one, isn’t?

  5. Jeff,

    Your analogy suggests that coal is a limited resource.

    How can that be true when there exists huge reserves around the globe?

  6. “If definitely can be windy at night at any time”

    Indeed!

    And for those farms on the coast, why not add Tidal and/or Wave generation too where appropriate? The oceans never stop moving.

  7. Player 1
    “How do we get the world to do something about the fact that we may have already emitted sufficient carbon to ensure catastrophic global warming, and if we have not yet, will do so within a decade or so?”

    Hi P1 -the figures i have produced in earlier threads (which are all taken from peer reviewed science) show we have already locked in 2.1°C- 2.6°C of global warming as of 2016. The first part of your paragraph is correct, it is just about adaption and resilience now and the best way to move forward with those efforts.

  8. This is a difficult one, isn’t?

    It does seem difficult for you to understand what actually matters.

    The supply (Adani yes, Adani no) doesn’t matter because it can’t make any significant difference to the amount of coal burnt. It’s superficially attractive to say “we must burn less coal, so let’s close down a mine”, but it is not an actual solution. Stopping Adani, allowing Adani to go ahead, will not make any substantial difference to the traded price of coal, and will not make any real difference to emissions.

    So why are we still chasing this non-solution? The solution, the actual solution, is to drive change in our electricity generation and to work internationally to drive change around the world. When we stop burning coal to keep the lights on the mines will stop digging the damn stuff up. It doesn’t work the other way.

  9. I’m not going to argue with you, P1, because you don’t want to consider how other nations will respond to our actions, which is a fatal flaw in your argument.

    My point is: In the long-run, it is all about substitution of primary energy supplies away from fossil fuels.

  10. Barney in the rabbit hole of fuckwittery @ #1059 Friday, November 29th, 2019 – 1:49 pm

    P1,

    Stop misrepresenting what the scientists are saying.

    This is why I quoted the paragraph in full.

    However, if there is some specific part of it that is still confusing you, I am happy to try and explain it.

    But first, you have to answer a simple question – “Quid Pro Quo”, so to speak.

  11. what i’m saying Cat is that until Labor put forward a coherent and science-based policy on this (this involves stopping pretending that coal has a future), they are useless and they will lose many voters. They need to put forward a coherent policy that says this is how we get to no coal power by 2030 and no coal exports 2050 – unless zero emissions coal technologies are developed. It’s not being a purist to listen to scientists on this – the physical reality is we can’t burnt coal any more. I want to see labor lead here – but albanese turns out to be a spineless windbag who is scared of alan jones and makes shorten look good.

  12. jeff
    “ Hi P1 -the figures i have produced in earlier threads (which are all taken from peer reviewed science) show we have already locked in 2.1°C- 2.6°C of global warming as of 2016.”
    That’s not quite true as we still have the options of climate engineering, unpalatable as they are at present.

  13. Stuart Robert MP
    @stuartrobertmp
    To recap, having a whole of govt architecture allows us to build an ontology of capabilities across govt.
    Coupled with a more agile funding model, it will allow us to move more quickly when trying new solutions and capabilities or scaling up platforms to address emerging needs.

    ***
    Importantly for our customers, it will allow us to organise services around their needs, circumstances and life events, rather than our own government structures.
    This is fundamental for delivering the vision of the Digital Transformation Strategy.
    __________

    What a lot of shit!

  14. Dandy Murray @ #1064 Friday, November 29th, 2019 – 1:53 pm

    I’m not going to argue with you, P1, because you don’t want to consider how other nations will respond to our actions, which is a fatal flaw in your argument..

    How would they respond? Let’s see – initially they would respond by trying to buy their coal elsewhere. This will cost them more, which will give a cost advantage to renewables, which will encourage them to reduce their dependence on coal.

    Easy, isn’t it?

  15. jeffsays:
    Friday, November 29, 2019 at 1:52 pm

    Barney

    All resources on planet Earth are limited. I won’t accept that you don’t understand that.

    How much cake do you need?

    In the case of coal, availability is not limiting usage.

  16. Charles II was far from the worst of the English monarchs. Principally he was interested in partying and getting his leg over, but to his credit he treated his several mistresses well and most of not all of his many illegitimate children were acknowledged. More importantly he helped the nation recover from the excesses of Puritanism without veering off in the opposite direction and was a major patron of the arts and science (perhaps the first such in the later case).

  17. jeff @ #1061 Friday, November 29th, 2019 – 1:50 pm

    Player 1
    “How do we get the world to do something about the fact that we may have already emitted sufficient carbon to ensure catastrophic global warming, and if we have not yet, will do so within a decade or so?”

    Hi P1 -the figures i have produced in earlier threads (which are all taken from peer reviewed science) show we have already locked in 2.1°C- 2.6°C of global warming as of 2016. The first part of your paragraph is correct, it is just about adaption and resilience now and the best way to move forward with those efforts.

    There are credible estimates that we are heading for 3 degrees plus, unless we act now. If we do, we can possibly still limit warming to below 3 degrees (I agree with you that it is probably too late to keep it down to 2 degrees).

    It is hard to know exactly how many lives this would save, but it is likely to be many, many millions.

  18. P1 –

    This will cost them more

    How much more, do you think? You haven’t really thought about it have you? There is no shortage of coal supply around the world, much as you might wish otherwise. There will be a few percentage points difference in price – whatever small production cost advantage they may have – not enough to make any real difference by itself to demand.

    This will cost them more, which will give a cost advantage to renewables, which will encourage them to reduce their dependence on coal.

    You haven’t really thought about this, either, have you? The only way that we can get out of fossil fuels is by rapidly reducing demand. What happens when you reduce demand? The traded price falls. In the presence of action on climate change, the demand for coal has to fall away – you can’t expect a theoretical boost from a trivial marginal price reduction to outweigh the fundamental changes to the marketplace that must occur. Coal, in whichever scenario you pick, has to become worthless if there is any hope, and when it is worthless what will Adani having gone ahead matter? Not an iota. You can’t use constraining supply to boost the traded price to result in any meaningful or sustained fall in demand. Demand has to fall independently of supply.

    Easy, isn’t it?

    Easy for you to be wrong.

  19. Player One:

    How would they respond? Let’s see – initially they would respond by trying to buy their coal elsewhere. This will cost them more, which will give a cost advantage to renewables, which will encourage them to reduce their dependence on coal.

    Easy, isn’t it?

    Most of the South (East) Asian countries that are ramping up coal use are statists and see both local coal production and electricity as part of nation building of critical political importance. If Australia withdraws coal supply (where it is currently in use) then a likely result is they will double down and ramp up their local coal mining (since they want to do this anyway, as much for political reasons as economic) and will build new coal fired generators matched to the quality of the locally produced coal. This will entrench coal fired generation in those countries for three decades.

    To avoid this we need to offer alternatives to coal fired electricity that both meet their economic criteria (based on cost) and meet their statist/political criteria.

  20. lizzie @ #1053 Friday, November 29th, 2019 – 1:41 pm

    I wonder if Stuart Robert knows what he means by this gobbledegook.

    Stuart Robert MP
    @stuartrobertmp
    To recap, having a whole of govt architecture allows us to build an ontology of capabilities across govt.
    Coupled with a more agile funding model, it will allow us to move more quickly when trying new solutions and capabilities or scaling up platforms to address emerging needs.

    ***
    Importantly for our customers, it will allow us to organise services around their needs, circumstances and life events, rather than our own government structures.
    This is fundamental for delivering the vision of the Digital Transformation Strategy.

    He doesn’t want anyone to know what he REALLY means. 😐

  21. Diogenes says:
    Friday, November 29, 2019 at 1:56 pm

    “That’s not quite true as we still have the options of climate engineering, unpalatable as they are at present.”
    This is true to a degree, but the only climate engineering project we have been successful at thus far has caused the said locked in 2.1°c to 2.6°c temperature rise.
    If you have time i think you would find the lectures of professor Kevin Anderson of Manchester University fascinating in relation to climate engineering and the scale of what is already required. He is on Youtube if you search his name and climate change you will find his account.

  22. If we look to the Malawi example, if they develop their own coal deposits it will cost them LESS than compared to importing it. This is what they are doing.

  23. Player Onesays:
    Friday, November 29, 2019 at 2:06 pm

    Barney in Tanjung Bunga @ #1072 Friday, November 29th, 2019 – 1:59 pm

    In the case of coal, availability is not limiting usage.

    No, but the cost of it does.

    Only if an alternate cheaper form of electricity is available.

  24. sustainable future,
    Unlike you I am engaging with the community and Labor MPs representing their communities in discussions about the way forward. It’s a lot more difficult than you make out.

  25. For all the Adani and Canavan, Mr Coal in Australia, boosters

    Barnaby Joyce auctions lump of coal – in a glass jar – at Nationals dinner
    https://reneweconomy.com.au/barnaby-joyce-auctions-lump-of-coal-in-a-glass-jar-at-nationals-dinner-19807/

    “The lump of coal was auctioned – on September 14 at the Old Parliament House – as part of a job lot along with a “start Adani” t-shirt that had apparently been worn by resources minister Matt Canavan, who likes to describe himself as “Mr Coal from Australia,” and who is a former chief of staff for Joyce.

    We are informed the auction generated great interest and went to an unidentified bidder at around $800. The proceeds were destined to the Young Nationals. We’re pretty sure the winning bidder won’t get the money back on the open market, as coal is now selling for around $60/tonne.

    Our informant was horrified by the events. It wasn’t just the discussions about coal and climate that dominated proceedings. “It was like being back in the 1970s,” our informant observed. “They are on a completely different planet.”

    Sadly not. They are very much on this planet, in Australia, and in government.”

  26. Rather than responding to each individual, let me just point out a few facts.

    First, the latest LCOE from Lazard:

    https://www.lazard.com/perspective/lcoe2019

    I draw your attention to the figure, which points out that the unsubsidized median cost of operating an existing coal plant is still competitive with the cheapest renewables.

    The actual figures are $33 (median coal) vs $32 (cheapest solar) or $28 (cheapest wind)

    So to answer the question of how small a difference in the price of coal can make a difference in its usage, the answer is “$1 per MWh”. That’s all it takes to make coal cheaper than solar.

    It is important to point out (as someone will, if I don’t) that this is comparing the median operating costs of existing coal plants with renewables, not new coal plants. However, when China is using their “Belt and Road” initiative to essentially build “free” coal plants for developing countries in return for political advantage, this is the cost that matters.

    So, provided Australia can continue to sell its taxpayer subsidized coal just a little cheaper than the market median, it can be enough to make coal cost-competitive with renewables in the countries in our region.

    We are like a drug dealers. China gives these countries their initial “hit” for free, but Australia becomes their long-term supplier 🙁

  27. Firefoxsays:
    Friday, November 29, 2019 at 11:43 am
    “It’s not going to be King Charles – he will re-name himself King George I believe, because all the previous King Charles’ were all horrible…”

    ***

    Elizabeth I (the first, known as “The Virgin Queen”) wasn’t exactly the nicest person either. In fact, she was a religious extremist, although not to the same extent as her sister, Mary I (“Bloody Mary” herself), whom she succeeded.

    To be honest, most of the former monarchs were pretty horrible people.
    ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
    Elizabeth I of England may not have been a nice person by the standards we are used to; she lived in pretty horrible times after all. But a “religious extremist”? Elizabeth I allowed her subjects to worship in the Church of England in the way they wanted, be it full-on new Protestant or celebrating the Mass, old Catholic-style. She even allowed Catholics to worship openly, although they were subject to a special tax, and even had Catholics at court. All this at a time when the Catholic monarchies of Europe were killing their Protestant subjects.
    Things did change a bit when the Pope issued what amounted to a fatwa against her, calling on English Catholics to murder her. The situation worsened when her Scottish Catholic cousin, Mary, plotted with some prominent Catholics, such as Sir Anthony Babbington, to assassinate Elizabeth and have herself installed on the throne.
    Elizabeth always said she was Queen of all England and wanted all her subjects to be loyal to her rule only. She famously said she would not open windows into men’s souls, meaning, your religious faith is your own business.

  28. Rather than responding to each individual, let me just point out a few facts.

    Interpretation:
    Rather than actually engaging in the arguments being made let me make a different argument so I can argue about that.

  29. Pretty remarkable for test cricket in Adelaide c/o cricinfo:

    [Some bad news, the weather forecast is very ordinary. There is rain forecast for all five days.]

    Cold too!

  30. A gentle reminder to give generously to the Poll Bludger’s bi-monthly donation drive, via the blue link at the top of the site or the red one at the bottom of each post. To make myself feel like I deserve it, I’ve given BludgerTrack a soft reboot (which is to say there’s only leadership ratings at this stage, to which I haven’t yet added the most recent Newspoll result because it’s a new series and I need a few more data points to get a bias/equalisation measure out of it).

    https://www.pollbludger.net/bludgertrack2022/leaders.htm

  31. Jackol @ #1091 Friday, November 29th, 2019 – 2:53 pm

    Rather than responding to each individual, let me just point out a few facts.

    Interpretation:
    Rather than actually engaging in the arguments being made let me make a different argument so I can argue about that.

    Nice try, Jackol. Now who’s making a different argument, instead of acknowledging that I just gave you a specific, detailed and substantiated response to your post, amongst others:

    How much more, do you think? You haven’t really thought about it have you? There is no shortage of coal supply around the world, much as you might wish otherwise. There will be a few percentage points difference in price – whatever small production cost advantage they may have – not enough to make any real difference by itself to demand.

    I just showed you that “a few percentage points difference in price” is enough to make a difference.

    But I am guessing you already knew that.

  32. There is no such thing as the last word in the argument with some people, is there?

    Just a verbal perpetual motion machine, which ambulates in ever-widening circles.

  33. Fulvio Sammut @ #1095 Friday, November 29th, 2019 – 3:11 pm

    There is no such thing as the last word in the argument with some people, is there?

    Just a verbal perpetual motion machine, which ambulates in ever-widening circles.

    “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.” – Upton Sinclair

    🙂

  34. P1 –

    I just showed you that “a few percentage points difference in price” is enough to make a difference.

    No, you didn’t. You put up a bunch of heroic assumptions about how investment decisions might be made, which don’t reflect reality – a 10 or 20 year planning decision is going to be based around some spot price of coal? Seriously? Plus LCOE for coal plants is not all about the price of coal; capital costs plus maintenance costs are significant. Plus ignoring all the demand modifying factors that need to be in play – carbon pricing, or tariffs on non-carbon priced producers, international subsidies/aid for 3rd world countries, international treaties/pressure etc etc – again demand altering policies – and, of course, the trend in technological advances. There is so much going on and you maintain that the difference between Adani’s potential production costs vs the next lowest producer’s production costs are going to be the difference between any significant amount of emissions being generated? That’s nonsense.

  35. lizzie says:
    Friday, November 29, 2019 at 1:26 pm

    Urban Wronski
    @UrbanWronski
    ·
    15m
    Up periscope! Submarine fleet tipped to cost $225b to build and maintain – not the $50 bn that Christopher Pyne claimed.
    https://theage.com.au/politics/federal/submarine-fleet-tipped-to-cost-225b-to-build-and-maintain-20191129-p53fds.html via
    @theage

    -0-

    When the 12th and last submarine is delivered (if on schedule) I will be
    120 years old.

    If the current estimate for the program is $225 billion, or about $20 billion a boat, you can bet your bippy that it will be half a trillion dollars when completed.

    OK you armchair or keyboard warriors out there, tell me why this is a good idea. And please don’t quote Greg Sheridan.

  36. I agree with Ballantyne’s observation that the Queen is not going to abdicate. If her health declines she will reduce her public engagements and delegate more of her role to Charles, but she will continue as monarch until she dies. Abdication is an extraordinary event. The Queen is a stickler for tradition, routine, and duty.

    Another foolish notion peddled in the tabloids is that Charles will step aside in favour of the more telegenic William. People who push this idea betray a fundamental misunderstanding of how a hereditary monarchy works. They don’t understood how seriously the people in line to the throne take their responsibilities, as ceremonial and cosmetic as they may appear to outsiders. Charles has spent his whole life preparing to be the next monarch. He is not going to throw his entire identity in the bin just because the media finds William more appealing.


  37. sustainable future says:
    Friday, November 29, 2019 at 1:55 pm


    People like you have made it very clear you are not part of the solution. It is a demand side issue.

    Dealing with demand has become a mainstream response. It sort of leaves bit players like the Greens chanting adani,adani,adani out of the picture but that is the away it is. They can adapt or become irreverent.

    Anybody with the smallest knowledge of the coal industry knows that Australia cannot control supply.

    If the coal price falls below the cost of production Adani will not go ahead.

    Oh dear below $70 a tonne again
    https://www.indexmundi.com/commodities/?commodity=coal-australian&months=120

    You can make the same half baked argument P1 made for gas. For KW of energy, Adani coal will generates less CO2 than the shit they are currently burning in India. I won’t because India are smart enough to have worked out P1 type enlargements are rubbish, the future is renewables.

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