As well as providing key inputs to the economy, Australia's environment is fundamental to the quality of life and sense of wellbeing of Australians. Until recently, there has been a tendency to take clean water, clean air and natural attractions such as the Great Barrier Reef, for granted. However, increasing population and economic pressures have environmental consequences. For example, the need to accommodate an increasing population causes habitat loss for native plants and animals, while economic activity, especially among the more energy-intensive industries, is associated with the creation of greenhouse gas emissions, which has been linked to climate change. Climate change is receiving global attention and a 2007-08 ABS survey showed that about three-quarters of adult Australians (73%) were concerned about climate change.
On the positive side, there have been developments in recent years towards better management of natural resources, such as improved conservation in the use of household energy and water use, and increased recycling of many materials. This chapter provides information on the environmental views and behaviours of Australian households, including personal energy and water use, waste and recycling practices, transport use, environmental issues and involvement, and the value of Australia's environmental assets. It also includes a section on household renewable energy use. The chapter contains the article Households and renewable energy.
Chapter 3, Land, Biodiversity, Water and Air, provides information on water use and its availability in Australia, the management of land resources and its effects on biodiversity, greenhouse gas emissions, and air quality.