Australia has performed poorly on a range of green indicators, including coming dead last on leadership and climate change, the latest Global Green Economy Index has revealed.

Australia ranked 37 out of 60 countries included in the measure of green economic performance, which covers leadership and climate change, efficiency, markets and investment, and environment and natural capital, trailing leader Sweden by a significant margin.

Other developed countries that performed badly include South Korea at 39, Japan at 44 and Belgium at 47. China ranked 55.

Australia slipping in performance?

In 2012, Australia was ranked number 10 out of 27 countries measured, and was also a leader in clean tech investment, ranked fourth. This year, Australia didn’t break into the top 10 for clean tech investment and fell to the bottom of the pack on leadership.

However, the number of countries included in the ranking has expanded considerably, as well as the dimensions measured, making year-to-year comparison difficult.

Labor attacks Coalition on performance

Labor used the poor performance to criticise the Coalition on its environmental policies.

“Tony Abbott’s international reputation for climate change inaction is growing, to the detriment of Australian businesses who are trying to retain and attract overseas investors,” shadow minister for Climate Change Mark Butler said.

“Where Australia was once leading the world, developing countries such as Kenya and Rwanda are now taking more meaningful action against climate change.”

Dead last on leadership

On leadership and climate change – taking in head of state, media coverage, international forums and climate change performance – Australia ranked last.

The report said this was due to “negative media coverage, unconstructive behaviour in international forums and poor climate change performance”.

Mr Butler said the result was unsurprising.

“This is not in the least bit surprising given Tony Abbott’s vocal opposition to clean energy, his mendacious scare campaigns against the Renewable Energy Target and carbon tax and his refusal to attend the UN Climate Summit in September or include climate change on the G20 agenda,” Mr Butler said.

“This latest report condemning Australia’s clean energy performance is the last thing our renewable energy sector needs after Tony Abbott’s RET Review completely stalled investment in the industry.”

Greens Leader Christine Milne called the result a tragedy.

“Tony Abbott has well and truly demolished Australia’s standing as a world leader in addressing global warming,” she said. “We were the best and now we are the worst. It is a tragedy and must be reversed.”

Getting more credit than deserved

Strangely, a separate perception ranking found that respondents regarded Australia as a green economy, ranking 11th out of 60.

“Australia is a rare case where its perception score significantly exceeds its performance one,” the report said, putting the discord mainly down to poor leadership performance.

Other countries whose perception outranked performance greatly included Japan, the Netherlands and the United States.

Is Australia bad for buildings?

The latest GGEI included an expanded section on efficiency, covering buildings, energy, transport and tourism. But contrary to the recent GRESB report that celebrated Australia’s position as a global green building leader, Australia didn’t even crack the top 10 for buildings in the GGEI.

The reason is due to the GGEI using LEED-certified space as its metric for green building performance, however the tool has relatively low coverage in Australia due to Green Star.

See the full report.

2 replies on “Australia bombs in Global Green Economy Index”

  1. Reading the report, I am struck by the brief and vague description of the respondents (“targeted respondents”) and the unusual approach to statistical analysis. One calculates standardized scores in order to directly combine them rather than generate quantiles and then combine the quantiles. Perhaps the most revealing sentence in the report was:

    “This poor result [the performance index] is due to negative
    media coverage, unconstructive behavior in international
    forums and poor climate change performance, despite
    its reduction in the carbon intensity of its economy over
    the last year. ” p. 28

    It appears as though the respondents took more notice of the media and whether the government said the right things than whether the economy’s carbon intensity went up or down.

  2. “Tony Abbott’s international reputation for climate change inaction is growing, to the detriment of Australian businesses who are trying to retain and attract overseas investors,” shadow minister for Climate Change Mark Butler said.”

    What inaction? Abbott is very active on climate change. He has cancelled the carbon tax. He has taken climate change off the G20 agenda. He has declared coal the saviour of humanity. He has declared climate change to be crap. He is very active – making his mates richer and the world a poor place to live.

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