18 November, 2020

Australia shows poor climate record compared with G20 nations: report

Australia is chalking up all the wrong kind of records when its climate policies and performance are compared with other G20 nations, says a new report. Australia has one of the G20’s highest shares of fossil fuels in its energy mix, its emissions per capita are three times the G20 average, it ranks highly in terms of vulnerability to climate risk, and faces heavy losses from those climate impacts.

The comparisons are made in the 2020 Climate Transparency Report, an annual collaboration between 14 think tanks and NGOs across G20 countries that compares climate policies.

“When measured up against other G20 nations, the Australian government’s record is simply embarrassing,” said Dr Ursula Fuentes-Hutfilter, Senior Policy Advisor with Climate Analytics, a Climate Transparency partner organisation. “On so many counts, Australia is failing to address climate change, and this report highlights just how poorly we are doing.”

Key results for Australia

  • At 93%, the share of fossil fuels is one of the G20’s highest
  • At 4.7%, the share of renewables in the energy supply is lower than the G20 average of 6.4%.
  • Australia is only one of two G20 countries with no price on carbon, nor plans to implement one (India is the other)
  • Australia ranks #4 in the G20 in terms of annual financial losses from climate impacts: at USD 2.4 bn of losses annually (AUD 3.32 bn)
  • Even at 1.5degC of warming, Australia will face extreme heatwaves, leading to health impacts
  • Building emissions per capita are three times the G20 average
  • Ranks low across the transport sector, with no policies for emissions standards, nor to promote electric passenger vehicles
  • High levels of deforestation with no policies to address it

“Australia has its head in the sand when it comes to climate change, this is already costing us dearly, both financially and in the loss of biodiversity,” said Bill Hare, CEO of Climate Analytics. “While the rest of the world is rapidly moving towards cheap and green renewable energy, Australia continues to have one of the highest shares of fossil fuel use in the G20. The cold hard facts show that our record is absolutely abysmal compared to most other countries in this report. Australia is simultaneously one of the most exposed G20 countries to climate change but also one of the greatest contributors per capita. This has to change.”

The global report finds that only four of the G20 countries are directly COVID-19 recovery packages to green their economies, but Australia is one of those that is instead supporting
its fossil fuel industry, by directing money to gas, a fossil fuel that should be out of the energy mix by, at latest, 2040.


Key global results

  • In 2019, energy-related CO2 emissions declined in G20 countries for the first time due to climate policies rather than due to external shocks (such as the 2008/09 financial crisis), namely by 0.1%, down from a 1.9% growth in 2018.
  • Due to the impacts of the pandemic, G20 energy-related CO2 emissions are projected to be 7.5% lower by the end of 2020 compared with 2019. Most notably, global aviation emissions collapsed this year.
  • The share of renewable energy in power generation increased in 19 of the G20 countries in 2019, accounting for 27% of power generation in the G20. It is projected to continue increasing in all G20 countries and will likely make up almost 28% of power
  • generation in 2020.
  • Coal consumption decreased by 2%. Notably, only five G20 members have set targets to phase out coal.
  • Growth in building emissions slowed in 2019 (+0.9%) compared to 2018 (+3.2%).
  • Emissions in transport (+1.5%) and industry (+1.2%) both saw continued growth in the G20 in 2019.

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