New Poll: Voters in Fossil Fuel Heartland States Want Clean Energy Future

03.02.22 By

A new poll of over 2000 voters in regional, rural and metropolitan Queensland and New South Wales released today reveals that 6 in ten believe the states’ future economic prosperity lies in clean industries, such as renewable energy exports (e.g. green hydrogen), critical minerals like lithium and cobalt, and manufacturing renewable products.

Notably, only a quarter of voters in Queensland (26%) and about one fifth in New South Wales (21%) believe their state’s future prosperity lies in coal and gas

New South Wales and Queensland dominate Australia’s coal export sectors, with New South Wales being home to the world’s largest coal port, in Newcastle. Three of Australia’s major liquefied gas export facilities are located in Queensland.

Yet two-thirds of voters say clean jobs in renewable energy will be the best source of future employment (63% in QLD and 68% in NSW). Overall, less than a quarter of respondents back fossil fuels as the best source of future jobs (27% in QLD and 19% in NSW).

The survey, commissioned by the Climate Council and conducted by YouGov, also found that:

Leading economist and Climate Councillor Nicki Hutley (former partner at Deloitte Access Economics) said (audio grabs available here): 

“This polling reveals that people in New South Wales and Queensland understand the era of coal and gas in this country is coming to a close as the world rapidly decarbonises. They strongly support government investment in new, clean industries that will future-proof jobs and secure our economic prosperity. 

“There is a huge opportunity for the historical coal and gas heartlands of New South Wales and Queensland to grasp the economic rewards of the global zero emission transformation, and the people see this.

“Significantly, voters recognise that further cuts to carbon emissions – critical if we are to keep global warming in check – will increase jobs and lift economic growth. 

“They also think regional areas will benefit the most. However, there is a strong view that there needs to be better support from government for communities that currently rely on fossil fuels in order for them to adjust to the changes.

“All governments should pay attention to this public groundswell of support for clean industries, and commit to credible carbon cuts this decade. The Federal Government can play a huge role in helping Queensland and New South Wales harness their immense natural advantages and put these states on a path to becoming clean industry and renewable superpowers.”

Dr Amanda Cahill, CEO of The Next Economy, a not for profit that works with business, local government and the community to manage the transition from fossil fuels to clean new industries, said (audio grabs available here):

“There are so many opportunities for regional areas and they’re crying out for support from government to help them diversify their economies.

“This poll reaffirms what I’ve been hearing on the ground. Workers, businesses and investors are ready to take advantage of the opportunities in the new economy, but they need the government to back them in with clear targets, regional development funding and planning support.

“The countries we export to are already on the road to net zero emissions and we have a choice – help them do it or lose out on those new export opportunities.”

Other spokespeople include:

NSW (quotes / audio available here):

Sam Mella, Hunter Engagement Lead, Beyond Zero Emissions

Geoff Bragg, solar installer and trainer Armidale, NSW, who can’t keep up with demand and sees a critical shortage of workers.

QLD (quotes / audio available here):

Dr Heidi Edmonds, Gladstone Engagement Lead, Beyond Zero Emissions

Jason Sharam, CEO of Mackay based renewables company, Linked Group Services

Luciano Giangiordano, CEO of Enertech PV, a renewable energy company designing and developing large-scale solar farms in Queensland, based on Sunshine Coast

The full statewide poll findings from NSW and QLD, the full questions, and a methodology statement are available here.

Audio and video grabs of spokespeople, and images, are available here.

To arrange interviews please call 

Annemarie Jonson on 0428 278 880 annemarie@climatemediacentre.org.au 

Rebecca Gredley on 0484 008 095 rebecca.gredley@climatemediacentre.org.au 

Hannah Izzard on 0438 972 260 hannah.izzard@climatecouncil.org.au 


The Climate Council is Australia’s leading community-funded climate change communications organisation. We provide authoritative, expert and evidence-based advice on climate change to journalists, policymakers, and the wider Australian community.

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