Australia's climate plans lag on G20 stage

Rebecca Gredley and Tiffanie Turnbull
·2-min read

Australia's climate policies have been put under the spotlight ahead of a G20 virtual summit, with the nation urged to boost its plan to address environmental impacts.

Climate policies from the world's top 19 economies and the European Union have been contrasted and compared ahead of Friday's summit, with Australia and India pinpointed as the only two without a carbon pricing scheme.

The Climate Transparency report found Australia's spending on fossil fuel subsidies per unit of GDP was above the G20 average, along with Mexico, South Africa, Argentina, Italy, France and Russia.

The report was put together by 14 organisations across the G20 countries, including Climate Analytics.

Most G20 members have policies to increase renewable generation, with Australia again an outlier along with Canada, Mexico and the US.

The federal government has met its 2020 target for 33,000 gigawatt-hours - or 23.5 per cent - of Australia's electricity to come from renewable sources, and has not set another goal.

Australia performs the worst when it comes to policies to decarbonise the transport sector.

The UK has put itself as a frontrunner for the phasing out of fossil fuel vehicles, with cars and vans only powered by petrol and diesel banned from sale from 2030.

Australia has not released its electric vehicles policy after the Morrison government heavily criticised Labor's hopes for 50 per cent of all new car sales by 2030 be electric.

Australia's emissions reduction goal of 26 to 28 per cent on 2005 levels by 2030 is deemed insufficient to limit global warming to 2C, with the nation also tipped to face some of the worst impacts of climate change.

The report points to last summer's bushfires as evidence climate change is already influencing fire seasons, explaining that record-breaking temperatures and low rainfall added to the impacts.

The fires burnt more than nine million hectares, razed 3000 structures and killed 33 people.

Bill Hare from Climate Analytics says Australia ranks fourth-highest in the G20 for economic losses from climate impacts.

"The Australian government has few policies to address these issues, and its international reputation is at stake," he said.

An international coalition of universities has also formed to implore G20 countries to prioritise climate action as part of their pandemic recoveries.

The International Universities Climate Alliance, founded and led by University of NSW, is comprised of almost 50 of the world's top-rated universities for climate and environment research.

UNSW's Matthew England says Australia should be at the forefront of reducing emissions as it's one of the countries most exposed to climate change.