9 in 10 Australians see action on climate change as an ethical imperative

By Jerome Doraisamy|12 November 2019

An overwhelming majority of Australians believe that governments, businesses and multinational corporations have an urgent ethical obligation to take action on climate change, according to new research.

The Ethics Index 2019, released yesterday by Governance Institute of Australia, quantifies the perceptions of adult Australians of the overall importance of ethics and what the actual level of ethical behaviour is within Australian society, examining the various sectors, organisations, occupations, issues and influences across the nation.

When asked to what extent there is an ethical obligation for organisations to take action on climate change – even if it impacts upon profits and results in job losses – 47 per cent said there is an urgent ethical obligation and 43 per cent said there is a slight ethical obligation. Only 10 per cent said there is no ethical obligation at all.

The volume of persons seeing this as an imperative is reflected in climate change moving from 10th position to be the third most difficult issue – year-on-year for the Ethics Index – to navigate ethically (37 per cent) while immigration is again rated the most difficult area to navigate ethically (49 per cent), followed by euthanasia (39 per cent).

On the question of responsibility for taking such action, 90 per cent said the federal government, state governments, Australian businesses and multinational corporations have an urgent ethical obligation to respond to climate change.

This was closely followed by international bodies such as the United Nations, local councils and individuals, which 89 per cent of Australians perceive as having an urgent ethical obligation to take action.

Further, more than half (53 per cent) of Australians feel there is an urgent ethical obligation for the nation to fully transition to renewable energy, while 37 per cent see it as a slight ethical obligation and just 11 per cent see no ethical obligation at all.

Governance Institute of Australia CEO Megan Motto said the Ethics Index was sending a “clear message” about the way Australians view climate change.

“We’ve been struck by the clear and compelling message from this year’s index for business leaders and the government: that more Australians now regard climate change as an urgent ethical obligation,” she said.

Elsewhere, the Ethics Index found that company secretaries are perceived to be the most ethical in a corporation, and that almost two in five Australians think lawyers are unethical.

9 in 10 Australians see action on climate change as an ethical imperative
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