Australia’s government policy response to the climate crisis was ranked last in an assessment of 60 nations released at the current global climate summit in Glasgow.
The Morrison-led government’s high per capita greenhouse gas emissions, lack of policies, low levels of renewables, weak targets and high-energy level usage saw the country get an overall ranking of 54 amongst polled nations.
Keith Pitt, Australia’s resources minister, said that, as a major fossil fuel exporter, the nation would continue to produce as much coal as other countries will buy.
This news comes on the side-line of the Cop26 talks, where Australia refused to pledge to cut its emissions of potent greenhouse gas methane, refused to improve its 2030 targets, and dismissed calls to phase coal out. It has instead promoted gas, hydrogen, carbon capture, and storage as solutions.
The Climate Change Performance Index which also takes into account the EU, covers 92% of all greenhouse emissions worldwide and assesses nations across 4 categories: energy use, renewables, emissions and policy.
Countries are given one of five ratings from “very high” to “very poor”. No country was given an overall “very high” rating because “no country is doing enough to prevent dangerous climate change”.
The top five performing nations overall are: Denmark, then Sweden, Norway, the UK and Morocco.
The bottom five are Kazakhstan, followed by Saudi Arabia, Iran, Canada and Taiwan.
While the world’s second-highest emitter of greenhouse gases, the US, climbed 6 places from its position last year, its overall response was rated “very low”, gaining it a ranking of 51st amongst individual nations. The world’s largest emitter, China was 33rd.
Overall, Australia lost four places on the index from last year when it was 50th and it was the only nation to be ranked 0 in the climate policy category, faring only slightly better in three other areas.
“The country’s lack of ambition and action has made its way to the international stage,” the report says. “Australia has fallen behind its allies, and its inaction even attracted public criticism in the run-up to Cop26.”
Australia’s best performance was in the renewable energy category, where it only just missed an overall “low” rating. Whilst the use of renewable energy in Australia is growing, the report stated that the nation has “failed to take advantage of its potential [in renewables], and other countries have outpaced it”.
In 2 of the 12 subcategories, Australia earned a “high” ranking: one for the upward trend in renewable energy and another for the trend in energy use per capita, which is falling.
The nation’s ranking also takes into account the government’s pledge to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, as well as the release of its long-term emissions reduction strategy in October.
“No new policies and plans were announced to go along with this [October] announcement,” the report states.
Scott Morrison, the prime minister was quoted saying to journalists “if we want the whole world’s emissions to go down” then a focus needed to be on reducing the costs of technologies.”
Angus Taylor, the nation’s emissions reduction minister, left the summit stating that he was “proud to have represented the nation” and there had been “enormous interest” in the country’s approach. “This is doing it the Australia way,” he said.
Taylor said in a statement that the report was “not credible”; quoted saying “It employs a subjective, non-transparent, and non-replicable methodology for ranking countries’ performance, promoted by advocacy organisations to suit their own agendas.”
As initially reported by The Guardian