Australians have softened their support for more ambitious targets to cut greenhouse gas emissions over the next decade after a United Nations summit where world leaders disagreed on a global deal to tackle climate change.

Support for a stronger 2030 emissions target fell to 49 per cent among voters nationwide in a survey conducted last week, down from 57 per cent one month ago and 52 per cent the previous month.

Asked if the government was doing enough after its $250 million support for electric vehicles and funding for new technologies in recent weeks, 28 per cent of survey respondents said the policies were “about right for now”.Credit:Fairfax Media

But the exclusive survey, conducted for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age by research company Resolve Strategic, shows one-third of voters believe the federal government should do more on climate policy.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison told the UN climate summit in Glasgow earlier this month Australia would cut emissions by 35 per cent by 2030 from 2005 levels, although the official target is a reduction of 26 to 28 per cent.

Asked if the government was doing enough after its $250 million support for electric vehicles and funding for new technologies in recent weeks, 28 per cent of survey respondents said the policies were “about right for now” while 16 per cent said the measures went too far.

Another 34 per cent said the government’s actions did not go far enough, but opinions were sharply divided according to political leanings. Only 14 per cent of Liberal and Nationals voters said the policies did not go far enough, compared with 54 per cent of Labor voters. The figure for voters in marginal seats was the same as the national figure.

Mr Morrison and Energy Minister Angus Taylor issued a technology plan a month ago to reduce emissions, but environmental groups dismissed it as inadequate because it did not offer enough detail and assumed unspecified gains from global technology trends.

Labor leader Anthony Albanese said this week the government was “all over the shop” on climate policy, citing it as a reason Mr Morrison should be thrown out at next year’s election.

“They now have a vibe, but they don’t have a policy,” he said.

While Greens leader Adam Bandt wants to cut emissions by 75 per cent by 2030 and phase out the use of coal and gas, Labor is yet to decide whether to keep or modify the target of 45 per cent it took to the last election.

The Labor Environment Action Network, a group of party supporters, called last weekend for a “credible” emissions reduction target for 2030 that could be as low as 40 per cent.

“Our target needs to stick close to those of comparable, resource-rich economies – the US has a target of 50 per cent on 2005 levels by 2030; Canada a target 40 to 45 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030,” LEAN co-convenor Felicity Wade said.

The Resolve Political Monitor surveyed 1606 people over six days to November 21 and asked the same questions about the 2030 target that had been put to voters in September and October. The results had a margin of error of 2.5 per cent.

The survey showed Australians are divided on phasing out coal, with 46 per cent backing calls to close coal-fired power stations within a decade, slightly down from 49 per cent when the same question was put to voters in September.

When voters were asked if Australia should phase out coal-fired power at a slower rate than the 2030 deadline, 35 per cent agreed and 30 per cent disagreed, similar to the response two months earlier.

The Glasgow summit included a statement from dozens of countries, but not Australia, to achieve a transition away from unabated coal power generation in the 2030s, or as soon as possible thereafter, for major economies and in the 2040s, or as soon as possible thereafter, globally.

While the Greens have called for an end to Australian coal exports by 2030, this argument did not gain majority support in the Resolve survey, with 38 per cent in favour compared to 40 per cent two months ago, a fall within the margin of error.

A large proportion of the electorate backs the export of coal, with 42 per cent saying the shipments should continue while there is international demand, compared to 44 per cent two months ago. Another 27 per cent disagreed, up from 23 per cent in the previous survey.

Mr Albanese has argued in favour of continued coal exports while Mr Morrison has done the same, saying on September 9: “We will keep mining the resources that we’re able to sell on the world market.”

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