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Party Divides: Expertise in and Attitude towards Climate Change among Australian Members of Parliament


  • Anita Talberg

    () (Parliamentary Library, Parliament of Australia, Canberra, Australia)

  • Stephen Howes

    () (Crawford School of Public Policy, The Australian National University, Canberra, Australia)


This study investigates Australian federal politicians' expertise in and attitudes towards climate change. Telephone interviews were conducted with a sample of 26 Members of Parliament (MPs). Results of the survey, undertaken in late 2009, suggest that climate change expertise is low to moderate among MPs, and that there is no correlation between expertise in and concern about climate change. The survey reveals important differences in attitudes to climate change by party. About 40 per cent of Coalition (Liberal and National) MPs are climate change 'deniers', but no Labor Party (ALP) MPs are. ALP MPs rate climate change as the most important (with water management) out of four long-term challenges, but Coalition MPs rate it as the least important (after not only water, but also aging and defence). All ALP MPs think climate change demands urgent action, and that Australia should play a leadership role globally, but only about one-fifth of Coalition MPs does. Even those Coalition MPs who are climate change 'believers' tend to give lower importance to climate change than ALP MPs.

Suggested Citation

  • Anita Talberg & Stephen Howes, 2010. "Party Divides: Expertise in and Attitude towards Climate Change among Australian Members of Parliament," CCEP Working Papers 0810, Centre for Climate Economics & Policy, Crawford School of Public Policy, The Australian National University.
  • Handle: RePEc:een:ccepwp:0810

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Sudhakara Reddy, B. & Assenza, Gaudenz B., 2009. "The great climate debate," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 37(8), pages 2997-3008, August.
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    JEL classification:

    • Q54 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Climate; Natural Disasters and their Management; Global Warming
    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior

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