A new report from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)’s Technology Review outlet ranks 76 countries and territories on their progress towards building a low carbon future, and places Australia in a mixed position on that index. The site establishes a ranking for each country based on carbon emissions, energy transition, green society, clean innovation and climate policy.
For all indicators together, Australia ranks 35th out of 76 countries. Iceland, Denmark, Norway and France are first to fourth, while Australia’s neighbour New Zealand is 8th. China ranks 45th, Japan 60th and last places goes to Qatar, at 76th. Costa Rica and New Zealand are the only non-European countries in the top 10.
In terms of specific measures, Australia’s rankings for each differ markedly:
- Carbon emissions – 49th
- Energy transition – 59th
- Green society – 18th
- Clean innovation – 55th
- Climate policy – 23rd
While Australia has a ‘climate agenda’, it is “at odds with the economy’s hydrocarbon dependency”, highlight the fact that Australia’s various policies are not aligned to what is required to take strong climate action. The report places Australia within a ‘greening middle’ category, with some signs of progress. In Australia, progress on decarbonisation, renewables and climate do not rank strongly, but progress on buildings, recycling and foodtech investment.
Several European countries dominate the upper regions of the Green Future Index. The emissions data show that several European countries have made progress curbing emissions, increasing renewables and investing in green mobility. However, stronger post-covid investments will be needed to accelerate these changes.
European countries dominate the top of the Green Future Index, with 15 European nations in the top 20. Many European countries have already made some progress with curbing emissions, transitioning their energy production to renewable sources, and investing in green mobility. The coordinated efforts of EU member states to commit more than €200 billion in bold green economy investments, as part of the European Commission’s sweeping post-covid Recovery and Resilience Facility, will give European nations an additional boost in years ahead.
“The bottom 15 countries in the index we call “Climate abstainers”, largely due to their inability to create and hold to firm energy transition and policy implementation goals, often against a backdrop of fossil fuel dependency.,” write the authors of the report. “These include Japan which, despite recently renewed commitments, is ranked 60th—the country is still weighed down by legacy industries and the shadow of Fukushima. Inability to move policy and industrial frameworks beyond existing carbon-intensive economies drag down the scores of our lowest-ranking economies: Russia, Iran, Paraguay, and Qatar”.
While the report confirms Australia is not at the back of world action on climate, it demonstrates how far it must go to match similar countries like New Zealand, the United Kingdom or countries in Europe. The mismatch has clear consequences, with the thread of carbon border tariffs provoking Australia’s Energy Minister.