Most Kiwis generally back the Climate Change Commission's bold recommendations to put New Zealand back on track toward emissions targets, new survey data suggests.
Last year, Massey University researchers polled Kiwis to find that seven out of 10 supported a Covid-19 recovery that aligned with the country's climate change goals.
In a follow-up survey of nearly 1100 people over February and March, they've also found strong support for a range of carbon-cutting measures the commission proposed in its draft advice.
That report, released in late January, warned New Zealand was on a path to fall well short of hitting targets under current policies and recommended a range of urgent actions.
They included slashing livestock numbers by around 15 per cent by 2030, phasing out imports of petrol cars by 2032, and planting 25,000ha of native forest every year by 2030, until at least the middle of the century.
Altogether, the recommendations - still to be finalised, with the commission still working through 15,500 submissions - would see greenhouse gas emissions fall by 36 per cent below 2018 levels by 2035.
Massey communications lecturer Dr Jagadish Thaker said that understanding public support was key for any policy to be successfully enacted or implemented - and there appeared to be plenty of it for the commission's suggested attack plan.
About 53 per cent of respondents strongly supported rapidly ramping up the planting of new native forests, while a further 39 per cent "somewhat" supported it.
Nearly 90 per cent either strongly or somewhat supported an urgent shift to wind and solar power for electricity generation, and 83 per cent were behind helping low-income households move to clean energy.
When it came to bringing in new policies to boost uptake of walking, cycling and public transport, 44 per cent were in "somewhat" support and 36 per cent "strongly" supported the idea.
There was a similar spread in responses to a question about surging electric vehicle numbers on our roads - from two per cent of our current fleet to 50 per cent by 2027 - more people "somewhat" supported a rapid shift (43 per cent) than strongly did (30 per cent).
About three-quarters of respondents were either in strong or moderate support of shutting down coal-fired electricity generation, even if it meant short-term job losses, and about 67 per cent agreed to some level that there should be no natural gas connections to homes after 2025.
"Another interesting finding from the study is that while there is strong public support for climate change policies in the electricity generation, the sector only accounted for 5 per cent of gross greenhouse gas emissions in 2019," Thaker said.
"Comparatively, while agriculture emissions contributed to about half of the emissions in 2019, the public support for policy change is not as strong, even though more than half of the public supports a change."
About 60 per cent of people either strongly or somewhat supported that 2000ha of dairy land should be shifted to horticulture each year after 2025 - while a quarter somewhat opposed that option and 15 per cent strongly did.
Similarly, one quarter and 15 per cent somewhat and strongly opposed, respectively, banning or reducing petrol car imports by 2030 - but 37 per cent somewhat agreed and 23 per cent were heavily in favour.
The greatest amount of opposition was found to be in slashing livestock numbers by 15 per cent by 2030: 19 per cent strongly opposed this, and 27 per cent strongly did.
At the same time, 34 per cent were in moderate support and 20 per cent strongly backed the proposal.
Ultimately, Thaker said the findings showed the majority of the public agreed with commission chair Dr Rod Carr's view that the draft recommendations were "ambitious but realistic".
"Usually, in surveys we find that the more specific the question wording of policies, the less is the public support," he said.
"However, I was surprised that even when we ask specific policy measures - as in this case of translating the commission's advice - we find a strong public support for policies targeting multiple sectors."
But he thought there was more work to do.
"We need more engagement with our communities, informing them not only about the impacts of climate change due to inaction, but also the 'here and now' benefits of climate action."
The survey, conducted by Qualtrics between February 15 and March 6, and canvassing 1083 adults, used a web-based questionnaire.
The data was weighted to match New Zealand census estimates and had a margin of error of plus or minus three per cent.
The commission is due to deliver its final package of advice to the Government by May 31, and release it publicly by the end of June.
"We are currently going through each submission as we prepare our final advice and, while we can't go into too much detail on the content of the submissions right now, there is a lot of support for acting now to ensure a thriving, climate-resilient, low-emissions future for Aotearoa," the commission's chief executive, Jo Hendy, said.
"We are very grateful to all the individuals and organisations who have made submissions, and that input will be reflected in our final advice."