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Australia — The Land Of Backward Policies & Contradictions

In what may have been the only way to confidently convince Australia’s leadership that they were taking a dramatically wrong turn on environmental and energy policy, global opinion has turned against the country at a time when the climate talks in Lima, Peru, have kept such issues at the top of everyone’s minds.

Tracking the imbecilic policy decisions of Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott and his government through CleanTechnica archives should be easy — simply search for the word “Tony Abbott” and you’ll find yourself confronted with coverage of bad decision after bad decision.

Such decisions — which include scrapping Australia’s carbon tax, backing coal at the cost of all else, and attempting to reduce or scrap entirely the country’s renewable energy target — have led leaders and analysts the world over to condemn the country’s path.

In October, the latest Global Green Economy Index was published by analytics company Dual Citizen, listing Australia as being 11th in “perceived” climate leadership, but 37th in actual “performance” rankings.

And just in time for the UN climate talks in Lima, think-tank Germanwatch in conjunction with the Climate Action Network Europe released their Climate Change Performance Index, which ranked Australia last (60th) of all industrialised countries.

Unlikely though it may be, the CCPI’s release came just a few days before Australia’s Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop, announced at the United Nations Climate Change Conference that the country would be contributing $200 million to the UN Green Climate Fund, after Prime Minister Tony Abbott had previously dismissed the Fund and promising Australia would not contribute.

Last Place

The Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI) was released just in time to impact talks at the UN Climate Change Conference in Peru — if in no other way than to remind everyone just how poorly Australia is performing. Australia ranked 60th, which is last, of all industrialised countries, due to what Germanwatch claims is “the new conservative government” that “reversed the climate policies previously in effect.”

Which is a nice way of saying that Tony Abbott’s government has made a hash of things ever since entering into office.


As can be seen, the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd places were awarded to no one, because “even if all countries were as involved as the current front-runners, efforts would not yet be sufficient to prevent dangerous climate change.”

“We see global trends, indicating promising shifts in some of the most relevant sectors for climate protection”, says Jan Burck (Germanwatch), author of the Index. “The rise of emissions has slowed down, and renewables are rapidly growing due to declining costs and massive investments.”

$200 Million

To everyone’s surprise, or maybe no one’s, Australia’s Foreign Minister Julie Bishop announced on Tuesday that her country would be contributing $200 million to the UN Green Climate Fund. She made the announcement prior to addressing the UN in Lima, a meeting BusinessGreen notes Tony Abbott’s office had initially refused to allow her to attend.

Because, at some point, the Prime Minister’s Office had to start making such inane decisions to keep in pace with their past decisions.

In a joint press release between Mr Abbott and Ms. Bishop, the Australian Government announced that they will “allocate $200 million over four years from our aid programme to Australia’s contribution to the Green Climate Fund which will bring total international contributions to the fund to over the target of USD$10 billion.”

The joint press release also made mention of Australia’s absurd Direct Action Plan, which the government claims will “help achieve our 2020 target,” but that everyone else knows is nothing more than a … I actually don’t know what it is supposed to do, nor how it is supposed to help — unless attempts to bastardise the country’s renewable energy target is tied up with the Direct Action Plan’s ineptitude.

Australia, the Gutless Wonder

To top it all off, I point you all towards a wonderfully written piece that brilliantly sums up one of the most frustrating underlying issues facing Australia today. For over a century, Australia has regularly been a part of global technological advancement — in ways you probably have no idea about. Australia can arguably claim the invention of Wi-Fi, and there is no argument over our involvement in the creation of the bionic ear. In fact, the list is rather extensive.

This might sound somewhat self-aggrandising, but my point is simple: Australia, one of the leading technology developers in the world over the past century, is doing all it can to ensure it plays no part in the current renewable energy revolution.

Writing for The Sydney Morning Herald on Thursday, author Julian Cribb highlights Australia’s recent contributions to energy research: The University of New South Whales just cracked 40.4% energy efficiency in solar cells, and a solar racing car designed by the same university students set a new world record of 107 km/h over 500 kilometres.

To sum it all up, I’ll let Julian Cribb close:

Put bluntly, there is a global boom in renewable energy coming down, and sun-drenched, wind-rich, tide-girt, hot-rocking, algae-pulsing Australia is doing all it can to miss it.

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Written By

I'm a Christian, a nerd, a geek, and I believe that we're pretty quickly directing planet-Earth into hell in a handbasket! I also write for Fantasy Book Review (, and can be found writing articles for a variety of other sites. Check me out at for more.


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