Australia named and shamed for “unambitious, uninspired” climate policies

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Two international reports name Australia among a small number of G20 nations whose climate change efforts are falling well short of other countries.

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As Julie Bishop assures UN climate talks in Marrakech that Australia’s private sector increasingly sees it “as their responsibility and their business… to embrace low-emissions technology,” two new new global reports underline just how far behind the climate eight-ball the Turnbull government remains.

The first – the latest Climate Change Performance Index, released overnight in Marrakech by Climate Action Network Europe and German NGO, Germanwatch – ranked Australia fifth-last out of a group of 58 countries responsible for more than 90 per cent of global energy-related CO2 emissions.

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According to a release accompanying the Index, Australia was ranked in the bottom group of the CCPI 2017 – rated “very poor” – alongside Canada and Japan. Other countries ranked below Australia include Kazakhstan, Korea and Saudi Arabia.

The CCPI report said Australia has gone backwards in energy efficiency since the last ranking, and continued to lag in ambition of climate policies.

The index also noted a gap between the national and state policies in Australia: the former described as “rather unambitious and uninspired,” the latter managing “to some extent to take independent action.”

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CCPI 2017 World Map

The second report, also released overnight in Marrakech, named Australia among a small number of G20 nations whose domestic efforts are falling well short of their pledged contributions to the Paris Agreement on climate change.

The report – launched at COP22 by the Grantham Institute and the ESRC Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy at the London School of Economics – lumps Australia in this ignominious category alongside Argentina, Canada, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the US.

The rankings are based on the “Paris consistency monitor” which assesses past and present action against three indicators: the consistency of domestic emissions reductions targets with those pledged nationally; progress towards meeting 2020 emissions reduction targets pledged internationally; and past performance in ratcheting up the ambition for climate change mitigation.

It concludes that these six G20 nations “lack overall framework legislation or regulation on climate change, and need to move from sectoral to economy-wide targets and extend the timeframe of their targets to 2030.”

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CCPI 2017 Progress on Renewables Map

The six countries were also found to be “either behind on meeting their 2020 targets or have not set any”.

“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 in response to the findings of the CAN-Germanwatch report.

“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,” she said.

“If Adani’s proposed giant Carmichael mine is ever built, it will wipe out Australia’s efforts to reduce pollution under the Paris Agreement.”

Meanwhile, yet another report – this time from the United Nations Development Program in conjunction with a group of 43 developing countries among the most vulnerable to climate change – has highlighted the not insignificant economic benefits of ambitious climate action, and the economic cost of the alternative.

The report argues that keeping global warming to 1.5°C would see the world’s gross domestic product fall by $21 trillion by 2050, rather than by $33 trillion under a ‘business-as-usual’ approach that allows global warming of 2.5 degrees – a $US12 trillion saving that represents about 10 per cent of global GDP.

It would also “substantially” reduce the risk of the flooding of large parts of the world’s lowest lying land and give coral reefs like Australia’s Great Barrier Reef a fighting chance of survival – as opposed to “virtual disappearance” under BAU.

The report, called Pursuing the 1.5C Limit, said changes like those projected under business as usual would dramatically affect the world’s economy.

“The contractions in India and China alone may have large implications specifically on the growth of neighbouring countries in the region, as well as the world economy.

“These reductions in macroeconomic outputs induced by climate-change impacts could therefore pose a very serious challenge to poverty eradication efforts in the developing world.”

And in rich nations like Japan and the USA – and presumably Australia – the report warns “climate-change damages might flip the GDP projections from a modest annual growth to a potential annual decline, in the absence of adaptation.”

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8 Comments
  1. Kenshō 2 years ago

    “The report argues that keeping global warming to 1.5°C would see the world’s gross domestic product fall by $21 trillion by 2050, rather than by $33 trillion under a ‘business-as-usual’ approach that allows global warming of 2.5 degrees – a $US12 trillion saving that represents about 10 per cent of global GDP.”

    Great to see some realism in the discussion as well as those selling an energy utopia.

  2. Ian 2 years ago

    At least the scuba diving industry will thrive under a 1.5’c temperature scenario, there may be no more barrier reef but there will be plenty of submergeged cities to explore.

    • Kenshō 2 years ago

      Yes there are the “Saints of Climate Change”. It’s also important to be ruthless to look at the hard realities of what we’re collectively doing in Australia. Those selling energy utopias are merely focusing upon batteries, EV’s and new rooftops for human beings. Those human beings ongoing existence is built on the back of nature and nature is getting a walloping. Most human beings are yet to realise the extent of the change necessary to our lifestyles. Think of all the unsustainable farming with the subtraction of fossil fuel and the addition of climate change. No person ever makes sudden leaps from an old to a new paradigm. At least not without undeniable destruction of old methods. Whole communities relying upon things like cattle, sheep and mining could fall into ruin. We talk of communities being transitioned. Settlement takes place in areas for a purpose and in a post fossil fuel world the same will happen. We are where we are presently because the vast majority of us underestimate the challenges or are in the middle of Elisabeth Kübler-Ross’ five stages of the grief process – denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. The fact is not everyone survives this process. It’s not merely a tweaking of technical understanding. People face physical realities of loss. I’ve taken calls on the phones for lifeline including those who called because they didn’t want to die alone.

      • Ian 2 years ago

        Kenshō, not entirely sure what you are saying, but it sounds nice. A bit like David Bowie’s lyrics.

        • Kenshō 2 years ago

          I suppose I gave a long answer with the “content”. The “process” is there is a common emotional/psychological conundrum that ends up facing people in various self development groups, new age, pop psychology and even regular psychology and it runs like this:
          Once we start taking personal responsibility for creating our reality, should we never focus on what we don’t like and instead only focus on what we do want? Should we set aside our negative emotions and away motivators and only focus upon our positive feelings and toward motivators? Should we withdraw attention and power from our historical hangups and only give attention and power to where we are going?
          This is the conundrum.
          My position is we only look back to gain perspective on where we’re going, though looking back doesn’t have to be a drag, it can deepen insight, emotional transport and conviction to move forward.
          eg. some old school cognitive behavioural psychologists have focused upon teaching clients to think correctly, only to find they regress into past fears and emotions between sessions. This is because understanding any emotional drama does help to let it go and move forward.
          Is that any clearer? It attempts to answer your original question.

        • Kenshō 2 years ago

          Here’s a clearer example. When taking a suicide call, one always hears why the person wishes to take their life first. This is what is engrossing attention when the person first calls. There’s no use moving the call past this point until the person has expressed their reasons for wanting to kill themselves. After this, “ambivalence” usually surfaces and the person will then be more ready to considering any other conflicting reasons they wish to live. So its not negating hearing the bad stuff because its hard for us to hear. We have to hear it first then trust that often then the process moves forward after that.

          • Ian 2 years ago

            I assume you are using psychology as an allegory for electricity supply or maybe brainwaves and positive emotional energy can actually power machinery and heat and cool built spaces;) it would be suicide to ignore climate change but I doubt we can all go back to the simple rural life like a global Amish village.

          • Kenshō 2 years ago

            Insight is acknowledging what is currently happening. There’s a few of us who think a few batteries and EV’s are going to fix the problem and it’s not. That’s what I’m saying. It’s acknowledging the full depth of the problem and moving towards ideals. Both those factors are important 😉

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