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4626.0.55.001 - Environmental views and behaviour, 2011-12 Quality Declaration 
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 11/12/2012   
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Image: Environmental issues ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES

Australians' concerns and attitudes to the environment have shifted over the past few years. In 2011–12, 62% of people aged 18 years and over were concerned about environmental problems in general in Australia compared with 82% in 2007–08. (Table 1 and Graph 1)

As shown in Graph 1, the decline in concern about environmental problems in general coincided with a decline in concern about water shortages (89% in 2007–08 compared with 64% in 2011–12). Concern about climate change also decreased from 73% in 2007–08 to 57% in 2011–12. (Table 1 and Graph 1)


Graph Image for Graph 1 - Persons concerned about environmental issues in Australia, 2007-08 and 2011-12



Australians' views on the environment varied depending on where they lived:
    • More people living in capital cities were concerned with climate change (60%) compared with people living outside of capital city areas (52%)
    • Water shortages were of the most concern to people living in Western Australia (85%)
    • A higher proportion of people living in the Australian Capital Territory (67%), Tasmania (63%) and Western Australia (62%) were concerned about climate change compared with other states and territories.
(Table 3 and Graph 2)


Graph Image for Graph 2 - Persons concerned about environmental issues in Australia, by state or territory



The proportion of people concerned about environmental problems in general increased steadily with age, peaking with Australians aged 55 to 64 years (70%). It then declined among Australians aged 65 years and over, with Australians aged 75 years and over expressing a similar level of concern to 18–24 year olds (54% and 53% respectively).

This pattern was reflected in concern about water shortages which increased from 58% of Australians aged 18 to 24 years to 70% of Australians aged 55 to 64 years. Concern about water shortages then declined among older Australians to 60% of Australians aged 75 years and over. (Table 2 and Graph 3)

In contrast, concern about climate change was highest among younger age groups. Australians aged 75 years and older were the least likely of any age group to be concerned about climate change (40%). This compared with 61% of Australians aged 18 to 24. (Table 2 and Graph 3)


Graph Image for Graph 3 - Persons concerned about environmental issues in Australia, by age group



Attitudes to environmental issues also differed according to weekly personal income and gender:
    • In 2011–12, a larger proportion of Australians in the highest quintile for weekly personal income were concerned about environmental problems in general (70%) compared with other weekly personal income quintiles
    • More females were concerned about water shortages, accumulation and disposal of household waste, and climate change than males (68%, 67% and 61% of females compared with 61%, 60% and 53% of males respectively).
(Table 2)

The proportion of Australians who thought the condition of the natural environment was good increased to 50% in 2011–12 from 29% in 2007–08. In 2011–12, a smaller proportion of people living outside of capital city areas thought the condition of the natural environment in Australia was good (46%), compared with people living in capital cities (52%). In addition, people in the highest income quintile were more likely than any other income quintile to think the condition of the natural environment in Australia was good (57%). While more than half of Australians (53%) thought the natural environment in Australia was declining in 2007–08, less than two in five Australians (39%) felt the same in 2011–12. (Tables 1, 2 and 3)

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