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Australia ranks atrociously in climate change action

Jessica Yun
(Left) A global warming sign in the city, and (right) smokestacks of Loy Yang Power Station, Traralgon, Victoria. <em>Photo: Getty</em>
(Left) A global warming sign in the city, and (right) smokestacks of Loy Yang Power Station, Traralgon, Victoria. Photo: Getty

Australia’s position on climate change has been described as “unconscionable for a wealthy country”, “irresponsible to the extreme” by leading scientists, and supportive of the oil allies’ rejection of global warming science.

Now in the latest Climate Change Performance Index, Australia ranks an abysmal 55th place out of 60 countries on climate protection performance.

<em>Source: Climate Change Performance Index Report 2019</em>
Source: Climate Change Performance Index Report 2019

The nation is only ahead of the “very low” performers of the US, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Korea and Taiwan and is a slight improvement from last year, during which it sat in 57th place.

In contrast, Sweden, Morocco and Lithuania are at the top of the list. No country has achieved the ‘very good’ (dark green) rating meaning no country has yet made it to the top three, the report indicated.

Countries are assessed against 14 indicators, including carbon emissions, renewable energy, energy use, and climate policy.

Where are we failing?

Australia misses the mark when it comes to all four of the major index categories with a ‘very low’ rating for greenhouse gas emissions, energy use and climate policy.

Though we fare slightly better when it comes to renewable energy, we still sit at the bottom of the ‘low’ category.

“National experts [have] criticis[ed] the government for not putting forward any plans for renewable energy beyond 2020,” the CCPI report said.

“Experts argue that national climate policy has continued to worsen – the government has no comprehensive emission reduction policy, no regulation of transport emissions and no plans to phase out coal.”

Not only that, but we’ve been recognised for becoming an “increasingly regressive force” in international discussions on climate change for “attempting to weaken climate finance obligations” and “dismissing” the IPCC’s report on limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees.

Australia’s near bottom-five ranking comes as Credit Suisse data reveals that the country Down Under is the richest country in the world when measured by GDP per adult.

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