As Prime Minister Scott Morrison prepares to address a UN climate summit hosted by British PM Boris Johnson, who has asked leaders for ambitious new commitments, Australia has gone up two places to 54th in the Climate Change Performance Index, but remains near the bottom of the annual ranking.

Australia’s climate emissions per capita remain among the worst in the world.

In the ‘climate policy’ category only Trump’s USA is below Australia.

Australia’s improved position is largely due to strong renewable energy leadership by states and territories and shifts in energy use and investment by the private sector.

“Australia’s improvements from last year are due to the leadership shown by the states and territories, several of which have forged ahead on renewable energy, complemented by strong private sector investment,” said Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) climate change campaigner Suzanne Harter.

“Australia’s 2020 renewable energy target has already been met and the Morrison government has no national renewable energy ambition for 2030.  Instead we’ve seen a dangerous increase in plans to support the growth of the fossil gas industry.

“Australia is ahead of only Trump’s USA in the climate policy category.

“While every Australian state and territory government has a net zero by 2050 target, the Morrison government is yet to set such a target, or to set policy that would put Australia on a pathway to achieve economy-wide net zero emissions before 2050.

“We encourage the Prime Minister to use this week’s UN climate summit to set a net zero by 2050 target for Australia and to commit to much stronger action to rapidly reduce Australia’s climate pollution,” Ms Harter said.

“The Australian Government’s decision not to use legally baseless Kyoto credits to meet its Paris Agreement target is the bare minimum it should do on climate policy and is incomparable to the ambition shown by other countries,” said Richie Merzian, Climate & Energy Program Director at the Australia Institute.

“Two years in a row near the bottom of the ladder, Australia risks remaining a laggard on climate action if it doesn’t pick up its efforts, both in the short term with more ambition and in the long term with a net-zero target.”

Sweden, the UK and Denmark come out with the best scores in the index, which examines the climate actions of countries responsible for 90% of global climate pollution and is prepared by Germanwatch, Climate Action Network and the NewClimate Institute.

The USA was ranked last in the index, which rates 57 countries plus the European Union.

ACF and the Australia Institute both contributed to the Australian analysis.

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Journalists with enquiries may contact Josh Meadows on 0439 342 992. For all other enquiries please call 1800 223 669 or email action@mail.acf.org.au