'ROCK BOTTOM': Australia shamed in global report

Australia has once again ranked “dead last” in the world for its climate policies in a new report analysing nations’ commitments to tackle the global warming crisis.

The top three places were left unfilled to reflect that no country is doing enough to combat rising global emissions, in the annual Climate Change Performance Index which was released on Tuesday.

Sixty countries and the European Union were scored across four categories; climate policy, energy use, greenhouse gas emissions and renewable energy.

Overall, Australia was ranked 58 out of 63 countries for its federal climate policies. Source: AAP / Germanwatch
Overall, Australia was ranked 58 out of 63 countries for its federal climate policies. Source: AAP / Germanwatch

New Zealand came in at number 35 and was rated as 'Low', while Australia received the worst possible ranking of 'Very Low' in every category.

Despite committing to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 (albeit without any legislation or new policies), Australia dropped four places, achieving an overall ranking of 58. Only Korea, Taiwan, Canada, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Kazakhstan fared worse.

The report’s authors criticised a lack of detail in the federal government’s plan announced two weeks ago by Prime Minister Scott Morrison, adding it was not accompanied by nothing from a policy standpoint, other than earmarking funds for future technology development.

Federal policies responsible for Australia’s ‘bottom of the pack’ ranking

Smaller countries were not examined in the index, with its authors instead focusing on the jurisdictions responsible for 90 per cent of the planet’s greenhouse emissions.

Denmark was the highest ranked overall, with the United Kingdom, Mexico, India and Germany commended for their performance during the United Nations COP26.

With President Joe Biden once again committing the United States to the Paris Agreement, the country moved up several places, however it was still ranked 'Very Low' overall.

The world's biggest polluters were scored across four categories. Source: Getty / Germanwatch
The world's biggest polluters were scored across four categories. Source: Getty / Germanwatch

While the private sector and state governments have announced ambitious climate policies, the Australian Conservation Foundation’s (ACF) Gavan McFadzean said it was federal level “inaction” that led to the “rock bottom” ranking.

“While 130 countries have lifted their near term climate ambition, Australia has not, relegating us to the bottom of the pack with the likes of Saudi Arabia and Iran,” he said.

“The Australian government’s refusal to budge on 2030 targets has been widely criticised in Glasgow and is out of step with public opinion at home, with a major poll this year showing a majority of Australians, in every federal seat, wants stronger climate action this decade."

Government slams climate change report as ‘political’

The report is published by German-based Germanwatch, a non-profit that advocates for sustainable development, human rights, and corporate accountability.

Agriculture Minister David Littleproud labelled the group’s report as a “political index” telling the ABC this morning the ranking is not legitimate.

With the government announcing a half a billion in funding for the clean energy startups overnight, he said Australia will meet its net zero goals with “technology not taxes”.

Controversially the funding is linked to carbon capture and storage, as yet unproven technologies favoured by fossil fuel industries but with a very poor track record of success.

Labor has previously opposed allowing the Clean Energy Finance Corporation to invest in carbon capture, but the government appears committed to adding it to the body’s remit, despite a seperate funding stream to advance the technology.

ACF criticised the government's plan, with the advocacy group's CEO Kelly O’Shanassy arguing the move would be a "financial gift" to the coal, gas and oil industries that could "compromise the integrity and independence" of the CEFC.

“The (CEFC) must not be used to fund carbon capture and storage – technology that would allow the coal, oil and gas industries to extend the life of their climate-wrecking products," she said.

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