Though often portrayed as the most stringent opponents to the existence of climate change, a new poll from the Climate Institute found that nine in 10 Australians living in regional or rural areas believe they are already feeling the greater effects of climate change.
Concerned about the risk of droughts, floods, and bushfires and their effects on crop production and food supply, 46 percent of regional respondents stated they believe coal-fired power stations should be phased out, with 53 percent identifying solar as their preferred energy source and wind and hydro distant runners up.
The poll of 2,000 Australians found that three quarters of respondents across both regional Australia and capital cities believe ignoring climate change will make the situation worse.
When it comes to fixing the problem, 67 percent of respondents in capital cities and 71 percent in regional areas stated that individuals should be contributing to action on climate change, with state and local governments and businesses also to play their part.
The effects of climate change on regional and rural Australia were outlined by a Climate Council report last year, with the authors warning climate change is likely to worsen the systematic disadvantages suffered by rural and regional communities, and further widen the gap between rural and urban areas.
“Rural and regional communities are particularly vulnerable to increasing droughts, bushfires and heatwaves being driven by climate change. Furthermore, decreases in rainfall significantly reduce runoff and increased temperatures result in high evaporation rates, with serious implications for water availability in rural and regional areas,” the report stated.
“In addition to affecting agricultural production, climate change also threatens to increase the cost of essential goods and services and rural and regional communities are often poorly equipped to deal with the health impacts of higher temperatures. While all Australians will be affected by these challenges, those living in rural communities will be the worst affected.”
With the ABC this week reporting farmers are changing the way they manage their land in order to deal with the effects of climate change, community groups around Australia are forming to take matters into their own hands.
Totally Renewable Yackandandah in the Victorian town of Yackandandah that is working to have the town 100 percent reliant on renewable energy sources by 2022. Groups such as Totally Renewable Yackandandah are supported by the likes of the Community Power Agency and Coalition for Community Energy.
Individuals and businesses are finding ways to make a difference too; Berrybank Piggery in Windemere, Victoria, installed a biogas generator to turn waste from its piggery into energy for both use on the farm and to be sold back into the grid.
The Climate Council also found last year that farmers and rural landowners who lease their land for wind turbines can receive annual lease payments of around $10,000 per turbine per year. Around $20.6 million in lease payments is paid to farmers and landowners around Australia for this purpose annually.