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4602.0 - Environmental Issues: People's Views and Practices, Mar 1999  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 23/12/1999   
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MEDIA RELEASE

December 23, 1999
Embargoed 11:30am (AEST)
153/99

Environmental problems concern 69% of Australians

An ABS survey released today has shown that some 69% of Australians are concerned with at least one specific environmental problem, compared with 71% in 1998, 68% in 1996 and 75% in 1992.

Of a range of social issues, health was reported as "most important" (30% of people), as it was in 1998. This was followed by crime (26%), education (17%), and unemployment (13%). Environmental problems were nominated as the most important social issue by 9% of respondents. In 1996 (when this question was first asked) crime was the most important social issue (26% of respondents).

Air pollution continues to be the environmental problem of greatest concern for Australians, with 29% of people reporting this as their major concern. This compares with 32% in 1998, 31% of people in 1996, 34% in 1994, and 40% in 1992.

The survey showed that most people (43%) felt that over the last 10 years the quality of the environment had declined (compared to 46% in 1998 and 44% in 1996). Twenty seven per cent of people believed the quality of the environment had stayed the same, and 25% stated they thought it had improved over the last 10 years.

Some other survey results from the publication include:
  • The principle product used to insulate ceilings was fibreglass, wool or poly batts, followed by loose fill using cellulose fibre. The main wall insulation was also batts, followed by sisalation and reflective foil.
  • The principal energy source used for space heating was gas (33%), followed by electricity (28%). When the last survey was conducted in 1994, gas accounted for 32% of households and electricity 30%. Around 20% of dwellings had no form of space heating.
  • Around 3% of households were connected to a greenpower electricity scheme, where power is generated from renewable sources such as solar, wind, and hydro. Of those not connected the majority (79%) were not aware of any greenpower schemes offered by electricity companies. A quarter of these households were willing to pay more for electricity produced through a greenpower scheme, although most (56%) were not.
  • Cold water is used by the majority of households to wash their clothes (64%).
  • Of those households whose washing machines have a suds saver, most (67%) do not use it.
  • Of the appliances bought or replaced by the household in the 12 months prior to the survey, cost was the major consideration (49%), followed by how much energy the appliance used (34%). Environmental considerations were nominated by 8% of households.


Details are in Environmental Issues, People's Views and Practices (cat. no. 4602.0) available from ABS Bookshops.

If you wish to purchase a copy of this publication telephone 02 6252 5249.

State and Territory highlights are outlined below.



STATE AND TERRITORY DATA

NSW: Greatest environmental concern was air pollution (35%). Highest for the use of reverse cycle air conditioning units and use of electricity for room heating.

Victoria: Greatest environmental concern was air pollution (28%). Highest for believing that the quality of the environment had improved in the last 10 years, and the use of gas for room and water heating, and cooking.

Queensland: Greatest environmental concern was air pollution (24%).

South Australia: Greatest environmental concern was freshwater pollution (30%). Highest for using the suds saver feature on their washing machines, and the use of evaporative air conditioning units.

Western Australia: Greatest environmental concern was the destruction of trees and ecosystems (36%). Highest for believing that the state of the environment had declined over the last 10 years (53%).

Tasmania: Greatest environmental concern was freshwater pollution (19%). Highest for believing that the quality of the environment had stayed much the same over the last 10 years, no rooms in the dwelling being lit with fluorescent lights, use of wood for space heating and cooking, and connection to greenpower energy schemes (principally hydro-electric).

Northern Territory: Greatest environmental concern was destruction of trees/ecosystems (25%). Most likely to have at least one room in their dwelling lit with fluorescent lights. Highest for dwellings having tinted glass/solar guarding. using solar power for water heating, washing clothes in cold water, use of refrigerated air conditioning units, and believing that consumers should not have to pay more for greenpower.

Australian Capital Territory: Greatest environmental concern was air pollution (27%). Rated highest for willingness to pay more for greenpower.

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