Australia has been ranked fifth last out of the 58 countries assessed in the latest Climate Change Performance Index, released overnight at the UN climate talks in Marrakech.
The index, which is put together by Climate Action Network Europe and German NGO, Germanwatch, evaluates and rates the climate protection performance of 58 countries that together are responsible for more than 90 per cent of global energy-related CO2 emissions.
The countries on the list below Australia are Kazakhstan, Korea, Japan and Saudi Arabia, while the best performing nations are France, Sweden and the United Kingdom.
The index notes a gap between the national and state policies in Australia: while the former are ‘rather unambitious and uninspired’, the latter manage ‘to some extent to take independent action’.
“The government spruiks its climate credentials but Australia remains a laggard on cutting climate pollution,” said the Australian Conservation Foundation’s CEO Kelly O’Shanassy.
“The world is watching as our pollution rises and governments support new mega polluting coal mines.
“Australia has so much to lose from more heatwaves, droughts and bushfires – and we have some of the best renewable energy resources in the world – so we should be a leader on this list, not bumping around near the bottom.
“ACF commends the Government for last week ratifying the Paris Agreement, the global agreement to limit global warming to 1.5–2°C.
“But Australia cannot meet its Paris commitments unless we systematically close coal fired power plants and replace them with clean renewable power.
“If Adani’s proposed giant Carmichael mine is ever built, it will wipe out Australia’s efforts to reduce pollution under the Paris Agreement.”
The most recent greenhouse data shows Australia’s climate pollution levels are still rising.
Last week a coalition of prominent Australians presented Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg with a blueprint detailing eight actions that should form the basis of a national plan to drive a clean energy transition and help affected communities through the changes.