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Australia improves Climate Change Performance ranking slightly in CCPI 2023 report


CCPI overall rating for 2023

At the UN Climate Change conference the latest Climate Change performance Index for 2023 was launched.

The good news? Australia has improved its overall ranking by 4 places, mainly due to improvement in international climate policy..

It recognises the new 2030 climate targets while saying the target is still insufficient. The ramping up renewables and EV tansition is still in the early development stages. There is criticism that Australia has no plan to phase out coal and gas, and the Safeguard mechanism is also criticised as being insufficient.

Australia is still in the very low performing countries and is behind many other developed nations.

So what is the decarbonisation path forward for Australia to improve its ranking?

“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 report highlights the lost opportunity in kickstarting renewables transition during the pandemic:

The COVID-19 recovery has largely been a missed opportunity for climate progress, and we are again at a crossroads. We can use this external shock to improve how we heat, move, and live sustainably, or we can continue supporting our current and dangerous fossil system. This sustainable transformation’s importance and urgency have never been clearer – not only to save our climate but for our future society and peace.

Rather than decreasing fossil fuel production, governments are planning to, by 2030, produce twice the amount of fossil fuels globally than what is consistent with limiting global warming to 1.5°C.4 The nine largest coal-procuring countries5 account for 90% of global coal production. While countries such as France, Costa Rica, and Denmark have introduced or scheduled moratoriums on fossil fuel exports, others such as Mexico and Saudi Arabia plan to increase their exporting capacity.7 Instead of focusing its investments on RE, the G20 nations have added nearly USD300 billion towards fossil fuel activities since the COVID-19 pandemic began.8 These investments are at risk of becoming stranded assets and locking in additional fossil fuel use.

The CCPI has decided to flag the 17 countries responsible for a large share of fossil fuel production. These countries belong to the top 20 oil and gas producers, top nine global coal producers, and/or plan to increase annual production of fossil fuels by 2030. To keep the Paris Agreement promises in reach, no new permits for fossil fuel extraction should be handed out, and no new fossil fuel infrastructure switched on. Countries must stop investing in fossil fuels and they must expand their investments in RE.

Here is our country profile:

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New ranking:  55  Old ranking: 59

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. 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.

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.

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Note: Since this report was prepared Australia has committed to signing the Global Methane Pledge. Australia is still dragging its heels on climate finance and rejoining the Green Climate Fund.

Australia has 114 new coal and gas projects currently in the development and approval pipeline. See the question asked by Greens MP Watson-Brown on 7 November which Prime Minister Albanese failed to answer the question.

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