‘Most credible’ environmental index sees Aust sink

‘Most credible’ environmental index sees Aust sink


The Environment Minister in Australia’s conservative Liberal-National government, Greg Hunt, has describes it as the “most credible, scientifically based” analysis of the environmental performance in the world.

Trouble is Australia’s ranking on the 2016 Environmental Performance Index, released every two years by Yale University in the United States has just seen it plummet.

greg-hunt-environment-minister-liberalAustralia’s global ranking on the prestigious an international survey has dropped by 10 places to 13th out of 180 nations in its latest update.

Australia was ranked top for water and sanitation, and for exposure to environmental risks.

It achieved only mid-rankings for biodiversity, agriculture, and forestry.

The country’s worst performance, though, came in the climate and energy category, where Australia was ranked 150th for its trend in carbon emissions for electricity generation.

WWF-thermal-power-imageYale said that, among wealthy nations, only Saudi Arabia had a lower ranking than Australia for the decade to 2012.

The survey, which benchmarks nations according to their economic peers, follows a recent report showing investor confidence in Australia’s large-scale renewable energy industry had evaporated because of uncertainty in the sector.

Australia’s greenhouse gases from its power sector jumped by 3.8 million tonnes in 2015 alone, and were 5.1 per cent higher than in June 2014 before the Abbott government scrapped the carbon price legislation of the previous Labor government, energy consultants Pitt & Sherry said.

latrobe_valley-hazelwood-power-brown-coalMr Hunt had previously praised the Yale index, telling the ABC TV 7.30 program last November that it was “the most credible, scientifically-based, hard data-based analysis in the world”.

The Yale report comes as the opposition Labor Party began consultations with industries, employers, unions and community groups on how Australia can move towards zero-net greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, and meet a goal of sourcing half of all electricity from renewable sources by 2030.

The 40 or so meetings are aimed at establishing “a solid framework” of Labor’s climate policy ahead of this year’s federal elections, a spokesman said.

Labor-Environment-Minister-Mark-ButlerMark Butler, Labor’s shadow environment minister, said the government had signed up to the Paris climate agreement last month but had no realistic mechanism to reach the pledge of reducing 2005-level emissions by 26-28 per cent by 2030.

He described its $2.55 billion Direct Action plan as a “fraud”.

“The Yale report states that over the last decade ‘nearly every country has improved it’s [index] score’, every country that is except Australia,” Mr Butler told Fairfax Media.

“The Turnbull Government is taking Australia backwards at a shocking pace.”

Senator Larissa Waters, the Australian Greens Party deputy leader and environment spokeswoman, said the government’s “inaction on global warming is shameful, especially when compared to other countries”.

Australian Greens Party senator for Queensland Larissa Waters“International report after international report shows Australia is lagging on cutting climate pollution and yet the Liberal government is sticking with (former Prime Minister) Tony Abbott’s useless climate policies that leave us missing out on the trade and job opportunities in renewable energy,” Senator Waters said.

Yale said that Nordic nations dominated the environment rankings at the start of 2016, with Finland, Iceland, Sweden and Denmark claiming the top four positions.

tuna-fishing-pacific-ocean“Trends suggest improvement in many areas, yet progress remains slow, and some trends are overshadowed by other, more troubling findings,” the report’s executive summary said.

“The world’s nations protect more marine habitat than ever, for instance, yet fish stocks are declining.”

The full report can be found here.