Australia Australia

Australia slips five places to 59th in this year’s CCPI, trailing many developed economies.

The country receives ratings of very low for its performance in every CCPI category: GHG Emissions, Renewable Energy, Energy Use, and Climate Policy.

Australia’s federal climate policies are based on its Technology Investment Roadmap (TIR), aimed at supporting technologies intended to help reduce emissions by 2040, yet with continuation of fossil fuel-based energy consumption. In October 2021, the government confirmed its long-term emissions reduction plan aiming for net zero by 2050. No new policies and plans were announced to go along with this announcement. The CCPI national experts regard the TIR as insufficient for decarbonising the economy, reducing the use of fossil fuels, promoting renewable energy, and setting out how national GHG emissions will be reduced (with a rating of very low for Climate Policy). The government does not have any policies on phasing out coal or gas, but CCUS and hydrogen are being promoted as low emissions technologies. Even though the renewables electricity is growing, the experts believe that Australia has failed to take advantage of its potential, and other countries have outpaced it. This failure to promote renewables (leading to a low rating for the Share of Renewable Energy in Energy Use indicator), is exacerbated by inadequate infrastructure investment, despite subsidies for fossil fuel production and promotion of a ‘gas-led’ economic recovery following COVID-19. Despite public support for a net zero target, there is currently no national plan for transitioning to renewable energy (a backdrop for the very low rating for the National Climate Policy indicator), with the policy uncertainty undermining investment and causing energy supply concerns.

The country’s lack of domestic ambition and action has made its way to the international stage. The experts describe that the country’s international standing has been damaged by climate denialism by politicians, refusal to increase ambition, and refusal to recommit to international green finance mechanisms (accompanying a very low rating for the International Climate Policy indicator). Australia has fallen behind its allies and its inaction even attracted public criticism in the run-up to COP26.

The following national experts agreed to be mentioned as contributors for this year’s CCPI: Andrew Petersen (Sustainable Business Australia); Richie Merzian, Alia Armistead (The Australian Institute); Suzanne Harter, Gavan McFadzean (Australian Conservation Foundation); Graeme McLeay & Dr. John Iser (Doctors for the Environment Australia).

3rd of December 2021: After finding a calculation error in the CCPI 2022, we have revised our data. This effects Australia`s ranking slightly (-1 rank).

Technical note: how to read the target comparison graph

The graph above shows the development of a country over the past years compared with its Paris compatible pathway and 2030 target. For all three quantitative categories of the CCPI, this visualisation gives an overview of where a country is right now, where it would need to be to fulfil the Paris Agreement promises and where it aims to be in 2030.

For GHG emissions per capita, the data includes LULUCF, as used for the emissions per capita indicator. This leads to the vast changes in emissions of some countries with high forest coverage.
The calculation of individual country target pathways is based on the common but differentiated convergence approach (CDC). It is based on the principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities” laid forth in the Framework Convention on Climate Change. All Annex I countries therefore have a decreasing pathway from 1990 onwards, starting at that year’s emissions. 60 years later, in 2050, these countries are expected to reach net zero emissions. All other countries, which did not reach the level of global average emissions in 1990, are allowed to increase emissions until the average is reached. But by latest 2015 these countries, too, have decreasing pathways and 60 years to reach net zero. These pathways start from the global average.

The Renewable Energy data is given in per cent of Total Primary Energy Supply (TPES) and includes hydro energy, consistent with the respective CCPI indicator. As global distribution of Renewables (especially solar and wind) only started in the 2000s, the pathways in this category start in 2010. All countries have an equal goal: 100% Renewables in 2050, each starting from its 2010 value.

For Energy Use the Primary Energy Supply per capita is shown. All pathways for this category start at country’s 1990 values and meet at global average of 80 gigajoules per capita in TPES.
For 2°C and 1.5°C scenarios, a decrease in emissions by reducing the (growth in) energy use is as crucial as deploying renewable (or other low-carbon) technologies. The IPCC carried out a scenario comparison using a large number of integrated assessment models. From the scenarios available, we observe that the total amount of global energy use in 2050 has to be roughly the same level or a bit higher than it is today, with a margin of uncertainty. At the same time population will grow slightly between today and 2050. We therefore pragmatically chose the well-below-2° compatible benchmark to be “same energy use per capita in 2050 as the current global average”, which is 80 gigajoules per capita in TPES.