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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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MEDIA RELEASE
11 December 2012
Embargo: 11:30 am (Canberra Time)
205/2012
Australians less concerned and more optimistic about the environment

Australians' concerns about the environment have lessened over the past few years, and they feel the natural environment has improved, according to figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) today.

ABS Director of Environmental Surveys, Caroline Deans, said the recent environmental attitudes survey asked questions across a range of environmental concerns and practices, and showed some major changes in the way Australians are now viewing the environment.

Environmental concerns

"Fewer people today are saying they are concerned about the environment. Just four years ago, eight in ten adults were concerned about environmental problems. In this latest survey we've seen that drop to six in ten," Ms Deans said.

"Half of Australia's population now rates the condition of our natural environment as good; this is up from our last survey where the rate was less than one third.

"This drop in concern about environmental problems in general coincided with good rainfall across much of Australia over the last few years which has also led to fewer people worrying about water shortages.

"The proportion of people reporting water restrictions has more than halved from where it was in 2007–08, down from 76 per cent to just 30 per cent."

At a national level, concern about climate change has also decreased, down from 73 per cent to 57 per cent.

A higher proportion of people living in the Australian Capital Territory (67 per cent), Tasmania (63 per cent) and Western Australia (62 per cent) were concerned about climate change compared with other states and territories.

Personal water use

"In the year prior to the survey, just over a quarter of Australians decreased their personal water use," Ms Deans said, "and despite the easing of water restrictions in many areas of Australia, less than one in ten increased their water use."

"Of the estimated 4.8 million Australians who decreased their personal water use in 2011–12, more than half (51 per cent) were trying to conserve water at home. Other reasons given were the change in weather conditions (22 per cent) and a decrease in water needs in the garden (22 per cent).

"For the estimated 5.1 million Australians who reported that they had water restrictions, nearly three quarters (72 per cent) indicated that their personal water use had not been affected."

Personal electricity use

"Australians aged between 18 and 24 were less likely to limit their personal energy use, with 79 per cent having taken steps compared with 92 per cent of Australians aged between 35 and 74 years," Ms Deans said.

"The most common reasons reported for decreasing electricity use were trying to conserve energy (63 per cent) and cost saving (37 per cent)."


Further information can be found in Environmental Views and Behaviour, 2011–12 (cat. no. 4626.0.55.001) available for free download from the ABS website (www.abs.gov.au).

Media note
When reporting ABS data, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (or ABS) must be attributed as the source.

Selected environmental attitudes and behaviours over time, Australia

2011–12
2007–08

Concerned about any environmental problems in Australia
62%
82%
Concerned about water shortages
64%
89%
Concerned about accumulation and disposal of household waste
63%
69%
Concerned about climate change
57%
73%
Thought condition of natural environment in Australia is good
50%
29%
Thought condition of natural environment in Australia is declining
39%
53%
Personal electricity use has decreased
42%
47%
Personal water use has decreased
28%
55%
Current water restrictions in area reported
30%
76%


Selected environmental attitudes and behaviours, states and territories, 2011-12

NSW
Vic.
Qld
SA
WA
Tas.
NT
ACT

Concerned about any environmental problems in Australia
61%
62%
60%
65%
67%
62%
53%
69%
Concerned about water shortages
60%
65%
56%
76%
85%
59%
44%
71%
Concerned about accumulation and disposal of household waste
64%
65%
60%
61%
68%
66%
55%
70%
Concerned about climate change
57%
59%
51%
58%
62%
63%
47%
67%
Thought condition of natural environment in Australia is good
52%
51%
47%
43%
49%
46%
44%
56%
Thought condition of natural environment in Australia is declining
36%
37%
40%
37%
46%
39%
39%
45%
Personal electricity use has decreased
45%
39%
43%
40%
44%
38%
32%
39%
Personal water use has decreased
26%
28%
28%
30%
34%
22%
15%
30%
Current water restrictions in area reported
12%
45%
24%
18%
76%
np
np
30%

np - not published


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