New Poll: Voters in Fossil Fuel Heartland States Want a Clean Energy Future | Press release


A new poll of more than 2,000 voters in regional, rural and metropolitan areas of Queensland and New South Wales released today finds that 6 in ten believe that the future economic prosperity of states lies in clean industriessuch as renewable energy exports (e.g. green hydrogen), essential minerals like lithium and cobalt, and the manufacturing of renewable products.

In particular, only one a quarter of voters in Queensland (26%) and around a fifth of voters 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 hosting the world’s largest coal port, at Newcastle. Three of Australia’s major liquefied gas export facilities are located in Queensland.

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

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

  • 6 out of 10 say the government’s first investment priority should be in renewables (60% QLD; 62% NSW). In Queensland only 20% named coal and 15% said gas. In New South Wales, the numbers were 15% for coal and 17% for gas.
  • More than 6 in 10 overall agree that carbon emission reductions will bring economic benefits to workers (58% in QLD and 64% in NSW) and Business (59% QLD and 66% NSW).
  • 6 in 10 agree that regional areas will benefit the most from the global transformation to renewable energy (60% QLD; 61% NSW)
  • Only 2 in 10 believe that workers who depend on fossil fuels receive enough support to prepare for a decarbonized future without coal and gas (19% in QLD; 21% in NSW).

Nicki Hutley, leading economist and climate adviser (former partner at Deloitte Access Economics) says (audio clips available here):

“This poll reveals that the people of New South Wales and Queensland understand that the era of coal and gas in this country is coming to an end as the world rapidly decarbonizes. They strongly support government investment in many new clean industries that will ensure the sustainability of jobs and ensure our economic prosperity.

“There is a huge opportunity for the historic coal and gas heartlands of New South Wales and Queensland to seize the economic benefits of zero-emissions global transformation, and people are seeing it.

“Significantly, voters recognize that further reductions in carbon emissions – essential if we are to control global warming – will increase jobs and spur economic growth.

“They also think regional areas will benefit the most. However, there is a strong view that there needs to be better government support for communities that currently rely on fossil fuels so that they can adapt to the changes.

“All governments should heed this public outpouring of support for clean industries and commit to credible carbon reductions 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 the path to becoming clean industry and renewable superpowers.

Dr Amanda Cahill, Next Economy CEOa non-profit organization that works with business, local government and the community to manage the transition from fossil fuels to new clean industries, said (audio clips available here):

“There are so many opportunities for the regions that they are calling for government support to help them diversify their economies.

“This survey reaffirms what I heard on the ground. Workers, businesses and investors are ready to take advantage of the opportunities of the new economy, but they need the government to back them up with clear goals, regional development funding and planning support.

“The countries we export to are already on the path to net zero emissions and we have a choice: help them do it or lose these new export opportunities.”

Other spokespersons include:

NSW (quotes/audio available here):

Sam Mela, Hunter Engagement Manager, Beyond Zero Emissions

Geoff Bragg, solar installer and trainer Armidale, NSW, which cannot keep up with demand and is seeing 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 renewable energy company, Linked Group Services

Luciano Giangiordano, CEO of Enertech PV, a renewable energy company that designs and develops large-scale solar farms in Queensland, based on the Sunshine Coast

Full NSW and QLD statewide survey results, full questions and a methodological statement are available here.

Audio and video captures of spokespersons and images are available here.

To arrange interviews, please call

Annemarie Jonson on 0428 278 880 [email protected]

Rebecca Gredley on 0484 008 095 [email protected]

Hannah Izzard on 0438 972 260 [email protected]

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

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