Australians are struggling to kick coal habit, says report

In a world increasingly turning away from fossil fuels, Australia is now less prepared to prosper than it was some 15 years ago, a new report says.

The left-leaning Climate Institute says Australia is the only G20 country to score lower on its low-carbon competitiveness index for 2012 compared with 1995.

"Australia is the worst performing advanced economy among the G20," the institute says in its the global climate leadership review, released on Monday.

"It is the only country which has become less prepared for the low-carbon economy since 1995."

France, Japan, the United Kingdom, South Korea and Germany top the index, which measures a country's ability to prosper in the emerging global low-carbon economy.

Australia is ranked 16th of the 19 G20 nations behind Argentina, South Africa, Saudi Arabia and the United States.

The low-carbon competitiveness index is based on three factors: how a country's economy is currently structured towards less emissions-intensive activities, steps they've already taken to move towards a low-carbon future and investments in education and infrastructure.

Australia, a coal exporter, obviously struggles with the first.

"Australia has the lowest level of overall clean energy production, the second highest number of cars per capita and relatively high deforestation and emissions per capita from the transport sector," the review says.

By contrast France currently has the highest level of clean energy production, the least emissions-intensive exports and relatively low levels of car ownership.

But it's not all bad news.

The 2012 review, produced in partnership with GE, didn't examine Australia's plans for a carbon tax and emissions trading scheme because they haven't started yet.

"The clean energy future package will begin to change our direction," the Climate Institute review states.

"For the first time Australia will have an absolute and ongoing limit placed on the carbon pollution we release into the air."

The review states that Labor's pollution price, the carbon farming initiative, the renewable energy target and a raft of other clean-energy initiatives "can drive investment, innovation and minimise the threats and maximise the benefits to our citizens in a world limiting pollution".

In 2011 there was record spending on clean energy with global investment topping US$260 billion.

Investment in clean energy generation rose to 42 per cent of total energy investment in 2010.

The Gillard government's carbon tax starts on July 1 with a fixed $23-a-tonne pollution price. It will transition to an emissions trading scheme in mid-2015 with a floating price set by the market.

Have your say...

Mr T | Monday, 19 March 2012, 10:28 AM
What a crock of s#%@ from an extremist group of ratbags. All this talk about "carbon pollution" - nowhere is carbon dioxide mentioned. Is this a deliberate lie to make people think they are trying to stop that dirty black sooty stuff? It's a bit like calling rain "hydrogen pollution" It would be good if they actually had any proof that the human emissions of carbon dioxide are actually causing catastrophic global warming. GE has demonstrated its bona fides with its dealings with the extreme socialist Obama regime in the USA "In 2011 there was record spending on clean energy with global investment topping US$260 billion" - all to get taxpayers' subsidies - that's an awful lot of pigs with their snouts in the trough.
AG | Monday, 19 March 2012, 11:33 AM
CO2 is a greenhouse gas and I've yet to hear a cogent explanation of how you can double the amount in the air and NOT get warming. All I hear are rants, not science, from the likes of Mr T and other "skeptics". It's warming everywhere and there is now NO credible evidence that there is ANY other cause than human activity. And yet the wilfully ignorant, selfish and perverse refuse to admit that we can be the cause. As far as pigs with snouts go, the"carbon" industry is the most heavily subsidised in the world. Maybe they don't like the competition for the government's bucks. BTW Obama extreme socialist??? What planet is Mr T on? By his standards Australia (my home) would be communist.
VG | Monday, 19 March 2012, 12:03 PM
The carbon tax impost on the trucking industry will be catastrophic....who pays? user of course. Australia's contribution to carbon emission is between 1% & 1.5% globally, the scheme will cut ours by 5%. So all this cost to our economy will only make a twentieth of 1% difference globally. Why are we causing so much damage to the economy for such a miniscule gain in the greater scheme of things? Just plain madness.
Goldie | Monday, 19 March 2012, 12:27 PM
The whole climate con job is reaching religious proportions and its fanatic disciples will countenance no other view and in fact pour scorn and vitriol and sneer on any who dare question it. And as as far as his reference to communism goes I suggest he asks himself who has/is attacking anyone with money in this country and the answer is simple The Labor Party. It has blamed people who took up their sponsored solar scheme as making electricity dearer for everybody else and has done nothing but wind back green schemes; It has vilified the nations power industry and branded them "Big Polluters", the people who generate the energy that help separate us from the third world; They attack those Australians that bother to take out private health insurance and brand them as "middle class welfare recipients" and finally they attack the owners of the very industry that they themselves say saved us rom the GFC and call them "wealthy miners" who use their money to further their own interests? Australia's Most Wanted according to Juliar and their crime, getting off their collective arses and making a go of things. I like I suspect the majority of Australians do not subscribe to this new religion and whether AG likes it or not the last time I looked wee were allowed to have an opinion. Finally how is a country like Germany going to power itself when it shuts down all it's nuclear plants and does not burn coal? Please don' tell me solar and wind because if you believe that then have truly been hoodwinked.
dave d | Monday, 19 March 2012, 12:28 PM
AG -Are you trying to tell us that this bunch of no hopers attempting to run our country are not "Communists" - Come on !!!!
Mr T | Monday, 19 March 2012, 1:26 PM
AG - please provide the properly peer-reviewed proof that the human emissions of carbon dioxide are causing catastrophic global warming - you are the one wanting to destroy our economy over this , not me - the onus of proof is on you, not me. That's pretty simple, isn't it? Maybe you should read a bit more about Obama - and yes, Australia (my home) is becoming a socialist/communist state under Gillard and her gang. Even that clown Swan is aping his mate Obama with his divisive rich/poor rhetoric. I suggest you get your head out of your fundamental orifice and look at what's going on around you. I suppose you also think Finkelstein's report recommending the end of freedom of speech in this country is a good idea too.
AG | Monday, 19 March 2012, 2:28 PM
Mr T. The reports of the IPCC are all peer reviewed. There are no credible papers to the reverse. Personally I favour nuclear, plus whatever renewables work. Goldie do you really think we look like North Korea or Staslinist Russia? Climate change isn't a religion, just a fact. I wish we could ignore it but that would be irresponsible. VG I take your point but, per capita we're the world's biggest and could proably change a lot easier than many. Also the long term cost to the country through lost agricultural production, increased water costs may outweigh the short term pain now(?)
Mr T | Monday, 19 March 2012, 2:49 PM
AG - surely you jest - "IPCC reports all peer reviewed"??? Yeah - by students, enviromental activists and bureaucrats - oh, and the railway engineer Pauchari. Take the plunge - refer me to the "PROPERLY" peer reviewed paper that proves that the human emissions of CO2 are causing CATASTROPHIC global warming. Mate - if you don't have that, you have NOTHING!!!! How simple is that - just provide the link. If you actually think there are "no credible papers to the reverse", you must get all your information from the ABC and the BBC - and the pixies.
Goldie | Tuesday, 20 March 2012, 9:41 AM
AG; There is no mention in my comments of Australia resembling North Korea or Stalinist Russia. I do however think we should all be concerned about the communistic class warfare being waged by Gillard and her attacks on the wealth creators and achievers in this country. As has been stated by many Australians the carbon tax will do nothing to the levels of CO2 in the atmosphere and the government knows it yet will press ahead despite the fact that no one else is doing anything meaningful and that includes the EU window dressing that benefits no one but the money men and is all but worthless and redundant today. And your comments about how an industrial country like Germany will power themselves when Nuclear is gone? And finally AG we are supposed to live in a democracy so why doesn't the PM let the people decide whether we go down this path or not or are there simply not enough believers to ensure victory so she will force it on us?
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