Extensive OECD review details a litany of failures to curb climate pollution and restore the natural world over the last decade.

Our elected representatives must embrace the enormous benefits of greening our economy, cutting pollution and restoring nature as outlined in a landmark OECD review of Australia’s environmental performance, the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) says.

ACF’s Chief Executive Officer, Kelly O’Shanassy, said the extensive OECD review detailed a litany of failures in Australia to curb climate pollution and restore the natural world over the last decade. These were the result of a persistent attitude among some irresponsible politicians and businesses that the environment had to suffer to turn a profit, she said.

But Ms O’Shanassy said the OECD report showed Australia had numerous ways to blaze a new path – from untapped renewable energy resources to enhancing the rich biodiversity that provides our communities with clean water and healthy food.

In its review the OECD warns:

  • Australia has one of the world’s most climate polluting economies, is not on track to meet its inadequate 2030 Paris targets and has no long-term low emissions strategy.
  • Nature in Australia is in a poor state and its condition is worsening, with 81 ecosystems, 511 terrestrial and aquatic animal species and 1355 plant species listed as threatened.
  • The National Threatened Species strategy will do little to restore our native creatures unless it is expanded and backed by greater resources.
  • Funding is falling for core biodiversity programs and research.
  • Energy taxes do not reflect the climate costs of fuel use: taxes on transport fuels are low by international comparison; and tax refunds mean fuels are largely untaxed outside of transport; coal is fully untaxed.

“In this election year our major political parties have an opportunity to detail to the community how they would embrace a cleaner and greener plan for our country and our economy in the next term of government,” Ms O’Shanassy said.

“The OECD is clear. Australia is failing to protect the environment and we are doing damage at record speed. We have one of the most climate polluting economies in the world. We are rapidly losing our native species and ecosystems. And we are producing more waste.

“Sadly, too many of our politicians and business figures think trashing nature and the climate is the only way to make a buck. It is nineteenth century thinking that does not befit a modern, wealthy and educated country like Australia.

“Australia needs a new social compact to rapidly transition away from climate pollution and nature destruction towards restoration of our natural world for all that it provides us.

“In the United States we are seeing growing calls to establish a ‘Green New Deal’ to tackle the urgent problems of climate change and inequality.

“In the Australian context, governments could develop a new ‘Green Accord’ between the community, scientists, forward-thinking business, progressive unions and civil society, to accelerate the transition to a zero-pollution economy and end the destruction of nature.

“This OECD report is clear that Australia can cut climate pollution by embracing clean energy and new technologies. It finds Australia can give business the incentive to do the right thing with new laws, smarter taxation and ending subsidies to pollute. And Australia can restore habitat by establishing a fully representative protected area network and investing more in restoration.

“We can no longer ignore the persistent warnings about what runaway climate change and a sick natural world mean for our country. The good news is we have the tools, skills and technology to forge a new way.”

ACF Media Enquiries

Journalists with enquiries may contact Tom Arup on 0402 482 910 or Josh Meadows on 0439 342 992. For all other enquiries please call 1800 223 669 or email action@acf.org.au.