At 28 going on 29, Felicity Lochhead and her husband Hayden, 30, are at a stage in their lives where family and close friends are becoming curious about whether they plan to start a family.
But for Ms Lochhead, whether or not to have a child is a decision increasingly overshadowed by her worry about the impact of climate change.
“It’s definitely something I have thought about when considering making that very big decision,” she said.
“It’s not the only factor, of course, but it's a big factor because I want to consider the future for that potential child and if it's looking like it will be very damaging, then it’s going to be something I [weigh up] before deciding to bring them into the world.”
Ms Lochhead, from Windang, is not alone. According to a national survey of 6500 women, a third of those below the age of 30 have similar concerns.
The survey, conducted jointly towards the end of last year by the Australian Conservation Foundation and climate action group One Million Women, reached thousands of women through social media and the membership networks of both organisations.
The results, released on Monday, show 33.4 per cent of women aged under 30 who were surveyed were having second thoughts about starting or expanding a family because of fears those children would face an “unsafe future from climate change”.
In the 30- to 39-year age range, the figure was 22.4 per cent, while 45 per cent of women in that age bracket said they had or were planning to have children, but were worried about the impact of climate change on their offspring.
Overall nearly 90 per cent said they were "extremely concerned" and nearly 80 per cent said they, friends or family had experienced "worry or anxiety" about what a warming planet meant for the future.
ACF chief executive Kelly O’Shanassy acknowledged that the survey was of members and supporters, but argued that her organisation is “very representative of mainstream Australia”.
“Half our supporters are from the outer suburbs, regional and rural Australia,” she said.
“All the polls out there are suggesting 70 to 80 per cent of the community now accept and are fearful that the damage from climate change is here now; they see fires, fish kills on the Murray Darling, damage to the Great Barrier Reef and the hot days, and they are not buying the line any more that this is [the result of ] natural cycles.”
Ms O’Shanassy said the findings about young women reconsidering having children were "startling."
ACF is aiming to make the looming federal election the “climate election”, targeting three seats in particular: Chisholm - held by Julia Banks, who resigned from the Liberal Party to turn independent in the wake of Malcolm Turnbull’s overthrow; Bonner in east Brisbane; and the new seat of Macnamara (formerly Melbourne Ports), in Victoria.
A poll for GetUp released at the weekend showed climate change was biting strongly as an issue in Tony Abbott’s seat of Warringah.
Sixty per cent of respondents in the GetUp Poll said they would be more likely to vote for a candidate with a plan to replace coal with clean energy.