Poor ranking heats climate debate

According to a survey by European non-government organisations, Australia is now the worst-performing developed nation when it comes to climate-change action. We have been ranked 57th out of 58 nations reviewed by the survey.

The government’s scrapping of the carbon price may be partly to blame for the low ranking. However, Guy Ragen, a climate change campaigner for the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF), said Australia’s conservative emissions reduction goals and high rate of pollution per capita made the country a poor performer prior to the carbon price being scrapped in July – a move which caused Australia’s policy rating to slump 21 places in this latest survey.

“While the developed world is going in one direction, Australia is going in the opposite,” said Mr Ragen.

And with the government also attempting to cut the Renewable Energy Target, “You’ll have to assume [the policy rating] will get worse,” Mr Ragen said.

The report’s release coincides with climate change talks taking place in Peru this week. Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Trade Minister Andrew Robb will represent Australia at the talks.

Denmark, Sweden and the United Kingdom are the top three nations ranked in the survey. Australia and Saudi Arabia share the bottom four positions with Canada and Kazakhstan.

Read more at The Age.

Opinion: Time for Tony to get on board

The issue of climate change has been covered extensively in the media this year, which should go to show how important this subject is to Australians, but Tony Abbott still seems intent on avoiding the issue.

A recent Fairfax Ipsos poll found that six out of 10 Australians feel that the Direct Action policy is an inadequate response to the issue of global warming. This raises questions over the abolition of the carbon tax, a move which Mr Abbott has been trumpeting as a signature achievement of his government.

World leaders have criticised the Australian Government for dumping what were considered promising moves in controlling carbon emissions. The government is also under fire for not contributing to the Green Climate Fund (GCF), which assists poor countries to introduce their own strategies to combat global warming.

Even members of Abbott’s own party seem to be at odds with his lack of enthusiasm for an effective policy on climate action. The prime minister’s office initially blocked Bishop’s proposal to travel to the global climate talks in Peru, so she took the matter to the full cabinet to get the decision reversed. She is now attending the talks on the proviso that she be joined by climate-change sceptic, Andrew Robb.

The Prime Minister’s unwillingness to discuss these issues is considered one of the major factors for his massive drop in popularity, which is now at an all-time low. And with Australia now ranked as the worst-performing developed country in the world when it comes to climate action, we can’t get much lower.

The four lowest ranking nations – Australia, Saudi Arabia, Canada and Kazakhstan – are all major fossil fuel producing countries – three of the four are in the top 20 coal producing nations in the world. It’s not difficult to see why we face considerable issues when it comes to changing our ways. How do we switch to renewable energy when coal mining is one of our major exports, and provider of jobs? This is the hurdle our government faces when considering climate change strategies. These issues could almost make us a case for special consideration. It’s one thing for the world to be angry about our perceived lack of effort in tackling climate change, it’s another to actually step in and advise us on potential courses of action. However, this advice would inevitably fall on deaf ears.

What do you think? Should we put forward a case that we are in need of special consideration when it comes to tackling climate change? Will Mr Abbott’s attitude towards climate change affect your intentions when it comes to voting?

Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca has worked in publishing and media in one form or another for around 25 years. He's a voracious reader, word spinner and art, writing, design, painting, drawing, travel and photography enthusiast. You'll often find him roaming through galleries or exploring the streets of his beloved Melbourne and surrounding suburbs, sketchpad or notebook in hand, smiling.
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