Most churchgoers say climate change is happening and steps should be taken to respond.
How do church attenders and leaders view issues related to climate change? Should the Australian government take increased steps in response? Our results indicate that over half of churchgoers believe climate change is happening and is largely caused by humans.
The 2021 National Church Life Survey (2021 NCLS) asked church attenders from across 20 denominations about their views on climate change. This was then compared with the National Church Life Survey results in 2011 and 2016.
Attenders were asked to select a statement which best described their thoughts about climate change, out of a list of 4 options.
Results show that 56% of churchgoers say they think climate change is happening and is largely caused by humans. This showed no change from 2016, following a 12 percentage point increase between 2011 and 2016.
Just under a third of churchgoers (32%) think it is a natural fluctuation in temperature. This proportion has remained relatively stable since 2016, after a 7 percentage point decrease between 2011 and 2016.
Some 7% say they are unsure (a slight drop from 10% in 2016) and 5% don’t think it’s happening (a slight drop from 8% in 2016). So overall, views of uncertainty or dissent did not change much between 2016 and 2021.
Churchgoers were also asked to indicate their agreement or disagreement with the statement, “I feel a moral duty to do something about climate change.” In 2021, while almost 6 in ten agreed (59%), some 26% were neutral or unsure and 15% disagreed. There was a small increase in the sense of moral duty between 2011 and 2021.
Only around 1 in 3 churchgoers (29%) reported that they were satisfied with the Australian government’s response to climate change, with around 4 in 10 (39%) saying they were neither satisfied nor dissatisfied, whereas 1 in 3 (33%) said they were dissatisfied about the response.
While the thoughts of church attenders do vary regarding climate change, it appears that churchgoer views about climate change have remained steady between 2016 and 2021. A slight majority continue to believe climate change is happening and that humans are largely to blame. A large portion feel a moral duty to do something about climate change and only one third believe that the Australian government is doing enough to combat this problem.
With the increasing public profile of the urgency of climate change, it remains to be seen whether support for concerted action on climate change will further increase among churchgoers.
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