Australia ranks last for climate action among UN member countries

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Australia has been ranked last for climate action out of nearly 200 countries in a report assessing progress towards global sustainable development goals.

The Sustainable Development Report 2021, first reported by Renew Economy, scored Australia last out of 193 United Nations member countries for action taken to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions.

A database shows Australia received a score of just 10 out of 100 in an assessment of fossil fuel emissions, emissions associated with imports and exports, and policies for pricing carbon.

Second last was Brunei, which was ranked behind Qatar and Norway.

Richie Merzian, a climate expert at the Australia Institute, said the result was unsurprising.

“Australia has received similar rankings from other comparable studies, including the Climate Change Performance Index, which last year ranked Australia second last behind only Trump’s America,” he said.

“The federal government has no climate and energy policy and instead has cherry-picked technologies, many of which support the fossil fuel industry.”

The report noted Australia had not committed to achieving netzero carbon emissions by 2050. Scott Morrison has instead signalled Australia wants to achieve carbon neutrality as soon as possible and “preferably” by 2050.

The most recent emissions data, released by the government in late May, showed Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions were at the lowest levels in 30 years as the coronavirus pandemic put a handbrake on fossil fuel burning in the transport sector and slowed economic activity.

In a statement at the time, the energy minister, Angus Taylor, said those levels were despite “upward pressure from growth in exports and industry”.

The Sustainable Development Report tracks countries’ progress towards the UN’s 17 sustainable development goals, which include quality education, gender equality, wiping out poverty, creating sustainable cities and communities, and affordable and clean energy.

Australia ranked 35th overall, performing strongly on health and wellbeing, economic growth, education and clean water and sanitation.

For clean energy, Australia was listed as having “major challenges” but recorded a moderate improvement over the past 12 months.

The report says countries should not allow the Covid-19 pandemic to lead to a prolonged reversal in progress towards the goals.

“International commitments, for instance towards climate neutrality, must be rapidly accompanied by transformative actions and investments,” the report says.

“Large fiscal packages of major economies present an opportunity to foster a green, digital, and inclusive recovery.”

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