New Report: Australia Ranks Dead Last on Climate

21.10.21 By
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Australia is the worst climate performer out of all developed countries, a new report from the Climate Council has today revealed.

From Paris to Glasgow: A world on the move, has assessed both Australia’s track record on climate and its commitments moving forward against its international peers and found that Australia is the worst performing when it comes to cutting greenhouse gas emissions and moving beyond fossil fuels. 

“A commitment to net zero by 2050 would still leave Australia dead last, unless accompanied by a much stronger commitment to cutting emissions this decade,” said report lead author and Climate Council Head of Research Dr Simon Bradshaw, who is heading to Glasgow for the summit. 

“This is a defining moment in the world’s response to climate change, and Australia remains the villain, and an outlier in the international community,” said Dr Bradshaw. 

Ban Ki-moon, Former UN Secretary General and Deputy Chair of The Elders **SEE BELOW BOX FOR MORE EXTERNAL QUOTES**: “Australia is falling behind its own states and territories, its trading partners and other comparable nations. The world is now looking to Australia to take its place amongst the international community and lift its national ambition on climate.”

Chief Climate Councillor, Professor Tim Flannery who is also headed to COP26 with the Climate Council said: “We know what needs to happen in Glasgow, and we know what Australia must do to help achieve it. Net zero by 2050 is last year’s story. Almost all our traditional allies and major trading partners ticked that off long ago and have now set their sights on 2030. It is the scale and pace of action through the 2020s that matters, and which Glasgow’s success or failure will be measured by.”

Climate Councillor and report author, Professor Lesley Hughes: “The science is clear and for the first time Australia’s traditional allies and closest security partners, as well as our neighbours, are universally and explicitly calling for Australia to lift its 2030 emission reduction target. This isn’t just about saving face internationally, this is about protecting Australia’s economic future and ensuring our children and grandchildren can not only survive but thrive.”

Report Key Findings: 

“Australia is one of the world’s largest exporters of fossil fuels as well as being heavily reliant on them at home. By strengthening our climate commitments and actions this decade, we can have a huge impact on the future of our planet,” said Professor Hughes.

There are currently over 80 proposed coal projects in the pipeline for Australia and five new mammoth gas basins, as well dozens of smaller gas projects dotted across the country. 

“It will be game over for Australia on ever being taken seriously on climate change again if these polluting fossil fuel projects are allowed to proceed,” said Dr Bradshaw. 

“There has been a rapid and irreversible shift in the global politics surrounding climate change. Australia must get with the program – to reap the economic and geostrategic benefits of taking stronger action – or get left behind,” Dr Bradshaw added. 

The Climate Council has calculated that Australia should reduce its emissions by 75% (below 2005 levels) by 2030 and achieve net zero by 2035. As a first step, Australia should match the updated commitments of our key allies – including the US and the UK – and pledge before Glasgow to at least halve national emissions this decade.

Frank Bainimarama, Fiji Prime Minister and Chair of the Pacific Island Forum: “The upcoming COP26 UN climate conference in Glasgow must secure serious collective action to address the climate crisis. Failure could spell the loss of entire low-lying Pacific nations, and we can only fail if we shrink from our responsibilities. As this important new report from the Climate Council explains, we have reasons to be hopeful.”

Greg Mullins, Climate Councillor, former Commissioner of Fire & Rescue NSW and Australia’s longest-serving fire chief: 

“Adopting strong emissions reduction targets isn’t about window-dressing ahead of COP26 or pulling our nation out of the climate action gutter, it’s about protecting the lives of Australians.” 

“Making major cuts to emissions this decade then getting to net zero as quickly as possible are what’s needed to tackle worsening extreme weather events like those that drove the catastrophic 19/20 bushfires, heatwaves, then floods. 

“Those of us that hold hoses and are in the direct firing line of climate change impacts want to see our government spending more time protecting us and future generations, and less time approving new fossil fuel developments.”

Nicky Sparshott, CEO Unilever Australia and NZ: 

“Our business has a large and complex value chain and we’re already experiencing the challenges and the escalating costs that more extreme weather patterns and long-term climatic changes bring to our operations.” 

“Governments must commit to establishing policy frameworks that give businesses confidence to invest in a net zero future. Once Australia has clear targets, the whole system will rally behind achieving them. Ultimately resulting in the transformational systems change we urgently need and ensuring Australia is not left behind.”

For interviews please contact Brianna Hudson on 0455 238 875 or Hannah Izzard on 0475 247 754. 

The Climate Council is Australia’s leading community-funded climate change communications organisation. We provide authoritative, expert and evidence-based advice on climate change to journalists, policymakers, and the wider Australian community.

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