The survey, conducted jointly towards the end of last year by the Australian Conservation Foundation and climate action group One Million Women, reached thousands of women through social media and the membership networks of both organisations.
The results, released on Monday, show 33.4 per cent of women aged under 30 who were surveyed were having second thoughts about starting or expanding a family because of fears those children would face an “unsafe future from climate change”.
In the 30- to 39-year age range, the figure was 22.4 per cent, while 45 per cent of women in that age bracket said they had or were planning to have children, but were worried about the impact of climate change on their offspring.
Overall nearly 90 per cent said they were «extremely concerned» and nearly 80 per cent said they, friends or family had experienced «worry or anxiety» about what a warming planet meant for the future.
ACF chief executive Kelly O’Shanassy acknowledged that the survey was of members and supporters, but argued that her organisation is “very representative of mainstream Australia”.
“Half our supporters are from the outer suburbs, regional and rural Australia,” she said.
“All the polls out there are suggesting 70 to 80 per cent of the community now accept and are fearful that the damage from climate change is here now; they see fires, fish kills on the Murray Darling, damage to the Great Barrier Reef and the hot days, and they are not buying the line any more that this is [the result of ] natural cycles.”
Ms O’Shanassy said the findings about young women reconsidering having children were «startling.»
ACF is aiming to make the looming federal election the “climate election”, targeting three seats in particular: Chisholm — held by Julia Banks, who resigned from the Liberal Party to turn independent in the wake of Malcolm Turnbull’s overthrow; Bonner in east Brisbane; and the new seat of Macnamara (formerly Melbourne Ports), in Victoria.
A poll for GetUp released at the weekend showed climate change was biting strongly as an issue in Tony Abbott’s seat of Warringah.