Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Australia ranked last on climate policy in a global list of 64 countries in the Climate Change Performance Index at COP26

Climate Change Performance Index rating for 2022

Another area where Australia is a true laggard is climate policy. 

The Climate Change Performance Index rated 64 nations on greenhouse gas emissions, renewables, energy use and climate policy. Australia was listed way down the bottom on greenhouse gas emissions, renewables, energy use and very last (64th) on climate policy. 

We ranked 58th overall.


As part of the Paris Agreement, states are urged to submit new updated targets to close the gap between NDCs agreed to in Paris and the 1.5°C, or at least well-below 2°C, limit, focusing on the 2030 targets. At the end of October 2021, 114 countries and the EU had submitted their new NDCs, covering nearly 61% of global emissions. 

The Climate Action Tracker (CAT) analysed the new targets of 36 countries and concluded that 18 countries and the EU submitted stronger targets (including Argentina, Canada, Japan, Morocco, Norway, and the United Kingdom), while nine countries had not increased their ambition (including Australia, Brazil, Mexico, Russia, and Switzerland).

Furthermore, China, South Korea, and Nigeria announced stronger NDC targets, while India’s government also announced a new stronger NDC at COP26 in Glasgow. The NDC Synthesis Report published by UN Climate Change at the end of September concluded that the updated NDCs are an important step for combating climate change, but there is still a wide ambition gap in the way of sufficient reduction of GHG emissions.  The most recent addition of the NDC Synthesis Report confirms the ambition gap and the need, especially for the G20 countries, to raise their targets.

The report highlights positive developments including:

  • Financial market increasingly uses the Paris Agreement and 1.5°C as key criteria for investments.
  • Civil society voices are rising. eg Fridays for Future, frontline communities and Indigenous people, are rising and fighting for climate justice.
  • Climate Litigation - The Paris Agreement is a strong starting point for a global wave of litigation cases against governments and companies, advanced, for example, by towns, affected people, civil society, and youth organisations. 
  • New business models apply, and they are pushing economic action. Net zero-oriented business models and technologies can potentially create economic value and reduce costs as well as risks.

Read more at the CCPI Blog on Hope for Change – How civil society, litigation, and new business models can accelerate the transformation

Here is what the Australia country profile says:

Australia slips four places to 58 th in this year’s CCPI, trailing many developed economies.

The country receives ratings of very low for its performance in every CCPI category: GHG Emissions, Renewable Energy, Energy Use, and Climate Policy.

Australia’s federal climate policies are based on its Technology Investment Roadmap (TIR), aimed at supporting technologies intended to help reduce emissions by 2040, yet with continuation of fossil fuel-based energy consumption. In October 2021, the government confirmed its long-term emissions reduction plan aiming for net zero by 2050. No new policies and plans were announced to go along with this announcement. The CCPI national experts regard the TIR as insufficient for decarbonising the economy, reducing the use of fossil fuels, promoting renewable energy, and setting out how national GHG emissions will be reduced (with a rating of very low for Climate Policy).

The government does not have any policies on phasing out coal or gas, but CCUS and hydrogen are being promoted as low emissions technologies. Even though the renewables electricity is growing, the experts believe that Australia has failed to take advantage of its potential, and other countries have outpaced it. This failure to promote renewables (leading to a low rating for the Share of Renewable Energy in Energy Use indicator), is exacerbated by inadequate infrastructure investment, despite subsidies for fossil fuel production and promotion of a ‘gas-led’ economic recovery following COVID-19. 

Despite public support for a net zero target, there is currently no national plan for transitioning to renewable energy (a backdrop for the very low rating for the National Climate Policy indicator), with the policy uncertainty undermining investment and causing energy supply concerns.

The country’s lack of domestic ambition and action has made its way to the international stage. The experts describe that the country’s international standing has been damaged by climate denialism by politicians, refusal to increase ambition, and refusal to recommit to international green finance mechanisms (accompanying a very low rating for the International Climate Policy indicator). Australia has fallen behind its allies and its inaction even attracted public criticism in the run-up to COP26.

 

CCPI overall rating table

Watch the press conference on 7 November 2021 on youtube launching the report:


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