Australia was the lowest ranked of the major industrialised countries in terms of its ability to prosper in a low carbon world. Image: iStock.
By Angela Dorizas
Australia is the worst placed industrialised nation to compete in a clean energy world, a new report has found.
The report commissioned by the Climate Institute and European environment group E3G is the first in-depth assessment and index of low carbon competitiveness among the Group of 20 countries.
The report has been released a week ahead of the G20 meeting in New York and Pittsburgh, where world leaders are due to discuss climate change and clean energy investment.
The G20 Low Carbon Competitiveness Report, prepared by London-based economics consultancy Vivid Economics, found that countries who adapt quickly to a carbon constrained world will be in the best position to deliver long term prosperity for their citizens.
Australia was ranked 15th out of 19 countries and was the lowest ranked of the major industrialised countries. The only G20 members ranked lower than Australia were Indonesia and Saudi Arabia. The report attributed Australia’s low ranking to its heavy dependence upon carbon intensive production for income.
Climate Institute chief executive officer John Connor said there was “no place for further handouts or delay in this Australian and global productivity and competitiveness challenge”.
“Many of our trading partners are moving faster and we risk missing opportunities for investment, jobs and and profits in clean energy emerging industries,” he said.
“This report underscores the urgency of preventing further handouts for big polluters, for economy wide reforms with a stronger Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme and for more decisive energy efficiency measures to improve Australia’s carbon productivity.”
He said the report also highlighted the importance of UN and G20 meetings to increase financial investment and incentives for clean technologies in both developed and developing countries.
“This is vital to building an ambitious outcome in Copenhagen, which could be the engine for accelerating low carbon growth.”
A crucial finding of the report was that most countries have failed to deliver the necessary improvements in carbon productivity to limit global warming below 2 degrees Celcius. However, Mexico and Argentina, followed by China, South Africa and Germany, had made the best progress on this issue.
In the preface to the report, UK economist Nicholas Stern said global economic recovery presented the ideal opportunity for a shift towards low carbon growth.
“Countries which don’t seize this opportunity will undermine their future competitiveness and prosperity,” he said.
“World leaders gathering next week for UN and G20 Summits must increase financial and investment incentives for clean technologies in developed and developing countries,” Connor said.
“This will be critical to building an ambitious outcome in Copenhagen which could be the engine for low carbon growth for decades to come.”
Key findings of the report:
- Europeans countries (France, UK and Germany) are front-runners today in the transition to a low carbon world.
- Carbon-intensive infrastructure and transport is holding the US back from being a big winner in the clean energy revolution.
- Japan is well-placed to transition to a low carbon world, but its leadership is under threat.
- South Korea has positioned itself to become a front-runner in the low carbon world.
- Most countries are failing to deliver the improvements in carbon productivity required to provide a fighting chance of limiting global warming below 2 degrees Celcius.
- The largest turnarounds in carbon productivity are required by Australia, Turkey, Russia and Saudi Arabia.
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