Australia has triumphed over South Korea, Iran and Saudi Arabia in a national climate action assessment, claiming 57th place on the Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI) released this week. But that’s it.
In front of Australia were countries such as Kazakhstan, Russia, Malaysia, Canada and Japan.
Even the US, which declared its withdrawal from the Paris Agreement and dismantled its Clean Power Plan, beat Australia by one ranking.
Health experts described this washout as embarrassing and shameful.
With the help of about 300 energy and climate experts all around the world, Germanwatch, the NewClimate Institute and Climate Action Network measured countries’ carbon emissions, uptake of renewable energy resources, energy efficiency and emission reduction policies.
Australia ranked among the very-low performing countries in three of the CCPI’s categories: greenhouse gas emissions, energy use and climate policy. It was also regarded as a low-performer on renewable energy.
“There is no excuse for Australia’s low ranking,” Doctors for the Environment Australia Dr John Iser said.
“We have known for decades that we should reduce emissions and Australia is blessed with natural attributes which allow us to do so.
“However, our federal government is still rating emissions as a low priority when formulating national energy policy, even though global carbon emissions are once again rising.”
The poor ratings reinforce the need for Australia to address other forms of carbon emissions such as transport, land use and deforestation, Dr Iser said.
State action stopped us from coming last
He said it was “extremely disappointing” to see that Australia had not moved up in the ranks, but if it were not for the “ambitious actions” taken by some Australian states, the country’s ranking would have been far worse.
The CCPI report encouraged Australia to strengthen its 2030 targets in terms of emissions reduction and renewable energy, and to implement credible policies.
However, the entire world will have difficulty meeting the 2º C warming limit, and has no chance of staying within the 1.5º C limit, according to commentators, Dr Iser said.
The world is so far behind that the CCPI report kept places one to three unoccupied on the rankings because not one country has yet done enough to prevent the advancing impacts of climate change, even after the Paris Agreement came into force.
“To amplify these and Germanwatch’s concerns, over 15,000 scientists thoughout the world have this week warned of the dire consequences humanity faces if stronger action is not taken to control greenhouse-gas emissions, incentivise renewable energies, curb pollution and protect natural ecosystems,” Dr Iser said.
“Future generations and the whole biosphere are vitally dependent on strong and effective policies. Australia needs to lift its game.”