Over 190 United Nations countries were ranked on their efforts to tackle climate change last week, and Australia came in dead last.
The U.N.-backed Sustainable Development Solutions Network released the report, designed to assess progress on various international sustainable development goals.
Nordic nations Finland, Sweden and Denmark topped the rankings, followed by Germany, Belgium, Austria, Norway, France, Slovenia and Estonia in the top ten. Australia finished last behind developing countries like Somalia, Ethiopia, Bangladesh, Liberia, Afghanistan and even the embattled African nation of Zimbabwe, which has been plagued by political unrest and drought.
The results of the report prompted Greens Senator for Queensland Larissa Waters to post on Facebook: “We are a global embarrassment”.
Despite being the second-worst for carbon pricing, our country is known as a nation that has long relied on coal and consistently ranks among the world’s largest emitters of greenhouse gases per capita. This year it also ranked among the top ten nations in terms of fossil fuel use and inside the top three countries with exported emissions per capita according to UN data.
Prime Minister still refuses to set formal carbon net-zero deadline
The announcement comes after Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison once again failed to deliver an updated timeframe on when our country will achieve carbon net-zero at the recent Group of Seven (G7) summit in Cornwall in the United Kingdom.
Mr Morrison has signalled that emissions should reach net-zero “preferably” by 2050, and has also hinted towards making that a formal target at the next U.N. climate summit in Glasgow in November.
Labor leader Anthony Albanese responded by saying it was a clear indicator our country is falling behind the rest of the world, a statement the latest U.N. report has backed up.
“Here we have all the world’s major powers, the G7, all committing to net zero emissions by 2050 and Australia being isolated in our opposition to that,” he said.
Then-Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack’s response was to defend the fossil fuel industries, particularly coal, which currently employs 55,000 people and produces $66 billion in exports.
“We will decide what’s best for Australia in Australia’s national interest,” he said.
“It pays for a lot of hospitals. It pays for a lot of schools. It pays for a lot of barista machines that produces the coffee inner city types sit around [and] drink [as they] talk about the death of coal.”
Barnaby Joyce leadership spill victory presents another climate action barrier
Our country’s position on climate action has been further jeopardised by the re-election of noted climate denier Barnaby Joyce as Nationals leader in late June.
He has been sworn back in as Deputy Prime Minister and has declared that “hopefully one learns from their mistakes and makes a better person of themselves”. However, any hope of that meaning a rethink on climate action rests in the hands of the National Party, with Mr Joyce stating that he would be “guided by my party room” on the target.
“It is not Barnaby policy, it’s Nationals policy,” he said.
In a column for The Australian newspaper in February, Mr Joyce made his stance on climate action and achieving net-zero very clear.
“The Nationals have always been opposed to a net zero target,” he wrote.
“Even before you consider the impact on our mining and manufacturing industries, a net-zero emissions policy would destroy any hope of expanding Australian farming.
“If the Nationals supported net-zero emissions, we would cease to be a party that could credibly represent farmers.”
Climate action result flies in the face of Australia’s world-leading solar efforts
The U.N. report and the lagging response to climate action from our leaders sits in direct contrast to our response from the business sector and the general public.
When it comes to the adoption of green energy solutions like solar and wind, Australia is unmatched. Even as COVID caused mass disruptions and lockdowns in 2020, our country had an 18.4 per cent growth in green energy uptake – almost double the global average.
Of all new electricity added to the grid in 2020, 80 per cent was made up of solar, wind and eco-friendly hydro sources. In addition, more than two million Australian homes, over 20 per cent, now have rooftop solar PV systems.
Would you like to save money on your electricity bill and help lead our country towards a clean, green, carbon-neutral future? Energy Matters makes it simple.
Contact us, and our team will deliver three free, no-obligation quotes from licenced and insured technicians in your area so you can get the best possible rate for your installation. We’ll also connect you with industry-leading panels that can deliver efficiency rates up to 25 per cent, and last up to 25 years.