International climate change experts have published a scathing critique of Australia’s climate change response – or lack thereof.
The federal government’s “unambitious” policy response to climate change has been ranked the worst in the world as Prime Minister Scott Morrison ramps up a pre-election blitz touting his national plan to meet net zero by 2050.
International climate experts say Australia has “failed to take advantage” of its potential and has not implemented any policies or plans strong enough to combat “dangerous” climate change.
World leaders are being urged to consider implementing more drastic measures after it was revealed temperature rises will top 2.4C by 2100 if countries do not adjust their short-term goals. That would significantly exceed the 2C upper limit set in 2015 and the 1.5C limit that was the aim of recent climate talks.
On the sidelines of the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow, which Mr Morrison and Emissions Reductions Minister Angus Taylor briefly attended, the Climate Change Performance Index was released and Australia received scores of “very low” in three categories, and “low” in one.
The government’s lack of policies, weak targets, low levels of renewables, high levels of energy use and high per-capita greenhouse gas emissions resulted in Australia receiving an overall ranking of 58, four places down from last year.
Australia’s worst score was its rating on “climate policy”, coming in last at 0.00, below Algeria, which scored 1.30. Luxembourg (19.11), Denmark (17.87) and Morocco (17.23) topped the chart, but no country was ranked 1-3 because “no country is doing enough to prevent dangerous climate change”.
Australia performed slightly better in the renewable energy rating table, coming in at 52 and a rating of “low”.
The report was released just two weeks after Mr Morrison announced a national plan to drive emissions down to net zero by 2050 by exploring future technologies. This week he has begun a pre-election blitz touting a $1bn pledge to support emissions reductions start-ups and a new electric vehicle policy.
But Australia also refused to sign a pledge to cut methane emissions, has dismissed calls to phase out coal, and has not set a more ambitious 2030 target.
As a result, the report wrote that there were “no new policies and plans” to go along with the government’s announcement.
“The CCPI national experts regard the Technology Investment Roadmap as insufficient for decarbonising the economy, reducing the use of fossil fuels, promoting renewable energy, and setting out how national greenhouse gas emissions will be reduced,” the report said.
“The government does not have any policies on phasing out coal or gas, but CCUS and hydrogen are being promoted as low emissions technology.
“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.”
The scathing analysis stated Australia had “inadequate infrastructure investment”, and despite public support for net zero, there was no national plan for transitioning to renewable energy.
“The country’s lack of domestic ambition and action has made its way to the international stage,” the report continued.
“The country’s international standing has been damaged by climate denialism, refusal to increase ambition, and refusal to recommit to international green finance mechanisms.”
Mr Morrison said on Wednesday morning he believed climate change would be solved by “can do capitalism, not don’t-do governments”.
“The world does not need to be punished for climate change, we just need to fix it,” he said.
“It will be fixed … by risk takers. That’s the Australian way.
“Like-minded Australians should be doing the same.”
Opposition climate change spokesperson Chris Bowen told ABC on Wednesday that the Morrison government’s “spin” couldn’t be trusted.
“You can’t trust this government on climate change, they don’t believe it, it’s a five minutes to midnight conversion,” he said.
“They’re prejudiced against renewable energy.”