Climate Change: Australians are worried but are ready to act

Climate distress and eco-anxiety have become the norm in Australia. According to a study undertaken by Veolia, the nation’s leader in ecological transformation and Elabe, French research and consulting firm, 84% of people say they are either concerned or anxious about climate disruption, with one in four people (26%) admitting the threat of climate change is so worrying it prevents them from making long-term life plans, such as having children.

Carrying the personal burden of environmental risks, 75% of Australians also said they felt vulnerable about the country’s degrading ecosystem, and more than two thirds of people (68%) said they felt exposed to harsh living conditions, such as extreme temperatures. However despite the eco-anxiety, more than half of Australians (57%) remain optimistic about restoring the planet’s health.

Richard Kirkman, Veolia’s Chief Executive Officer said the sentiment of Australians was not isolated, and that all 25 countries surveyed globally produced similar results. He said the numbers are indicative of the world’s exacerbating climate crisis, especially felt in Australia, but people are not losing hope.

“From bushfires and droughts, to heat waves and floods - it’s clear that Australians, among all global citizens, are feeling the emotional toll of the climate emergency, with eco-anxiety being a very real stress,” he said. 

The Veolia survey went on to reveal that Australians feel certain that climate disruption is happening (82%) and that associated impacts such as food scarcity is a ‘serious and immediate risk’. 

“For the first time, Australians are connecting the dots between climate and the future liveability of our planet, with issues like pollution, food scarcity and resource depletion recognised as imminent dangers. This knowledge is prompting citizens to call for change,” Mr Kirkman said.

The research revealed that 57% of people think that the future is still in our hands, believing we still have a chance to limit climate disruption and pollution. One solution viewed favourably by Australians is to address resource scarcity through better recycling.

“Australians want to be on the right side of climate history, and they are willing to accept the cost of action through better recycling. Overwhelmingly, 86% of Australians said they would buy food packed in recycled materials, 85% are ready to sort more waste, and 79% of people are willing to have recycling sites in their local areas. These are all very real steps we can take now, and they have an impact,” he said.

Unsurprisingly, Australians felt collective action would bring about the biggest impact, believing change to be shared responsibility between state government, local council, businesses and citizens. They also recognised that if joint efforts were successful, it would positively impact all of Australian society. 

“In the midst of environmental fear it’s hard to imagine what Australia would be like if we achieved  ecological transformation, however people are certain it would bring them healthier lives, happiness, a higher standard of living, and greater purchasing power - and they are right.

“The good news is that real, scalable solutions do exist. We’re already recycling, producing renewable energy, treating water through desalination, cleaning-up pollution, and decarbonising for ecological transformation. But this is just the beginning.

“With the fast adoption of more climate improvements, we can win the fight against climate change, and say goodbye to eco-anxiety once and for all,” Mr Kirkman said.

The Veolia survey was conducted in 25 countries across 5 continents. It gauged public opinion on climate change and measured the willingness of people around the world to accept solutions. Global results can be found at


Further Reading

Read about the Barometer to see how we use your voice to help us achieve ecological transformation. 

Understand our commitment to achieving ecological transformation

Read about the latest key policy and regulatory updates relevant to the environment

About the methodology

The survey was conducted in 25 countries in 5 continents with more than 25,000 individuals (about 1,000 per country). Countries were chosen for their demographic weight, their impact in terms of GHG emissions and to ensure a diversity of political and cultural ecological histories. Overall, these countries represent nearly 60% of the world's population and 68% of global GHG emissions. A survey conducted online from August 24 to September 26, 2022. For each of the 25 countries, a representative sample of residents aged 18 and over was selected. Frequency : Every 18 months (long period of evolution of representations, opinions and behaviours). 

About Elabe

Elabe is an independent French research and consulting firm founded in 2015 by Bernard SANANES. It carries out numerous studies for companies, business and media actors, in France and abroad, particularly on social issues and public debate. @elabe_f


Skye McParland, Head of Communications | +61 0427 319 881 | [email protected]

Veolia Group aims to become the benchmark company for ecological transformation. Present on 5 continents with nearly 220,000 employees, the group designs and deploys useful, practical solutions for the management of water, waste and energy that are contributing to a radical turnaround of the current situation. Through its 3 complementary activities, Veolia helps to develop access to resources, to preserve available resources and to renew them. In 2021, the Veolia Group provided 79 million inhabitants with drinking water and 61 million with sanitation, produced nearly 48 million megawatt hours of energy and recovered 48 million tonnes of waste. Veolia Environment (Paris Euronext: VIE) achieved consolidated revenue of 28.508 billion euros in 2021.