Tony Abbott

9 April 2014 — The Climate Institute has advised Prime Minister Tony Abbott to take note of Asia’s action on climate change as he prepares to visit Japan, China and South Korea this week.

After positioning itself as a regional climate leader after the introduction of the carbon price in 2012, Australia is now seen internationally as a laggard, even being lambasted by the Obama Administration’s former head climate advisor last week in Sydney.

A “fact sheet” released today [Wednesday] by The Climate Institute aims to bust the myth that Asia isn’t putting in serious effort to act on climate change.

“Asia is on the move, and becoming the global epicentre of clean energy investment and carbon market development, with China in particular stepping up its efforts in climate and clean energy leadership,” Climate Institute chief executive John Connor said.

“These nations are concerned about pollution, energy security and climate change as well as having an eye to the growing global low-carbon economy.”

The fact sheet provides examples of the changing circumstances of regional climate action, including:

  • China continuing to ramp up efforts to clean up its energy supply and improve its energy efficiency, last year launching five regional carbon markets and investing $54 billion in renewable energy
  • South Korea developing a national carbon market to launch in 2015, which will see carbon emissions reduce by 30 per cent by 2020
  • Japan encouraging investment in solar and wind and boosting efforts to increase energy productivity after its nuclear disaster

“All of these moves undermine the Australian government’s claim that Australia does not need to take more ambitious action to keep up with the rest of the world,” Mr Connor said.

The Climate Change Authority this year recommended that Australia raise its emissions reduction target to a minimum of 15 per cent on 2000 levels by 2020 to keep in line with international action. The Coalition Government has remained with a five per cent reduction target, which some commentators say will itself not be able to be met considering the limited budget allocated to the government’s main climate strategy, the Emissions Reduction Fund.

“It is increasingly clear that Asia recognises that 21st century prosperity depends on reducing carbon and air pollution, building a clean energy supply and getting as much out of energy use as it can,” Mr Connor said.

“This approach puts in stark contrast the Australian government’s intention to repeal the clean energy laws and its erratic approach to renewable energy, which is deterring investment and jeopardising jobs.”