Australia’s ranking improves in this year’s CCPI – up four places to 55th. Despite the rise, it remains among the very low performing countries and trails many other developed economies. Australia’s overall performance rates very low, as well as in the GHG Emissions, Renewable Energy, and Energy Use categories, and low for Climate Policy.
Australia’s climate policies and performance have fluctuated in the wake of its federal election in May 2022. The Australian Labor Party took over the majority and its government promised more ambitious climate action. The Australian Parliament recently passed the country’s Climate Change Bill 2022, legislating to, by 2030, reduce GHG emissions by 43% vs 2005 levels (up from the previous 26–28%) and to reach net zero by 2050.
Strengthened NDC is still too weak
Australia has also formally strengthened its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) with these targets. While the CCPI experts acknowledge the improvement and welcome the updated NDC, they criticise the target’s relative weakness. They note movement on measures for implementation related to industrial emissions, electric vehicle incentives, and energy use, as well as increased government consultation. However, much of this action is at an early stage, and the experts note that the final measures’ effectiveness is still unclear. In addition, despite the lack of electric vehicle and energy efficiency programs, these are under discussion.
The Safeguard Mechanism, intended to play a key role in Australia’s GHG emissions targets, is criticised as insufficient and covering only a small part of Australia’s emissions.
The CCPI experts express concerns about continued fossil fuel exploration and extraction, and about continued subsidies for fossil fuel infrastructure and projects. As one of the world’s largest LNG and coal exporters, Australia heavily subsidises the fossil fuel industry and has refused to limit fossil fuel production. It also has no policies or national plan on phasing out coal and gas mining. However, additional investment has been committed to support the growth of renewable energy and storage, including new transmission infrastructure.
Australia’s developed gas reserves rank it among the world’s top 20. The country is also among the nine countries responsible for 90% of global coal production and plans to increase coal and gas production by over 5% by 2030. The increase is not compatible with the global 1.5°C target.
Australia improved its engagement in international processes
Despite the above, Australia’s international climate policy rating of medium has improved substantially compared with last year’s very low. The CCPI experts note a commitment to improving engagement in international processes, including a bid to host a COP. The experts also emphasise that Australia is still not a member of climate initiatives such as the Global Methane Pledge or Powering Past Coal Alliance. Australia has failed to contribute its fair share of climate finance or even re-join the Green Climate Fund.
To align with a well-below-2°C trajectory, Australia must halt gas and coal mining for both domestic use and export, end fossil fuel subsidies, take further action to reduce GHG emissions from transport, and further increase its NDC ambition.
The following national experts agreed to be mentioned as contributors for this year’s CCPI:
- Monica Richter (WWF Australia)
- Richie Merzian & Alia Armistead (The Australia Institute)
- Dr John Iser & Dr Graeme McLeay (Doctors for the Environment Australia)
- Andrew Petersen (Sustainable Business Australia)