Support coal? It might be your age

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As the debate over the source of our energy supply rages on, a new poll from Fairfax/Ipsos has revealed some eye-opening findings, as reported in the AFR.

Across all respondents, one third think we should make use of coal-fired power while 61% said it was time to move on.

As you may expect, Coalition voters were 51% in support while only a quarter of Labor voters gave the dusty bricks the thumbs up. As for the Greens - well, I’ll come back to that later. 

Interesting? Sort of. Surprising? Probably not. What was more interesting was the different attitudes by age bracket.

Nearly half of those aged over 55 were up for coal but only 16% of those in the 18-24 age bracket supported it. We have a generation emerging into the workforce - and later onto the political stage - whose views are at odds with the current federal rhetoric.

We don’t advocate for ripping the plug out of the wall in every coal-fired power station tomorrow. Such a move would simply expose the lack of proper policy planning and hence our unpreparedness to generate sufficient power from alternative sources. Stable, reliable power supply has become an expectation - a human right even - for some decades, and no politician would want to preside over a return to the dark ages.

But things are changing rapidly and a plan to move Australia to a cleaner and more reliable energy system is unlikely to be able to wait for the tortuously long process that would have to go into building a new ‘clean coal’ plant. That’s not to mention the potential $5 billion of taxpayer money it might suck up in the process.

What do you think? Is clean coal the answer to our energy supply concerns or should our focus turn wholly to alternatives?

Oh, and the part of the survey findings that confused us the most? The fact that 4% of Greens voters apparently support coal. Go figure.