We’re baaaaack! But worried that Australia is lagging behind

Photo: OxfamAUS

Last year we were overwhelmed by the pledges you guys made to keep pressure on our government to act on climate change. Very excitingly, as 2010 is an election year here in Australia, we have real opportunities to turn our desires for change into real action…

Here’s why.

Much has been written about the disappointment of the UN Climate Summit in Copenhagen, commentators across the globe criticised it for being a talk fest with no real action. Opposition leader Tony Abbott gleefully embraced the fact that the meeting was unable to produce a global climate agreement to argue against an emissions trading scheme being established in Australia.

What has seldom been mentioned is the fact that within just a few months, the outcomes from the Copenhagen meeting has driven governments across the world to do more to tackle climate change, not less. Read on…

Last week the Deutsche Bank released their latest Global Climate Change Policy Tracker. It states that over 80 countries around the world have submitted emission reduction targets or carbon “action plans” covering more than 80 per cent of global emissions and 90 per cent of the global economy. While we still have a long way to go to secure a safe climate future, these commitments should not be sneezed at. (Check out the US Climate Action Network’s useful table “Who’s On Board with the Copenhagen Accord?”)

While Rudd and Abbott have recently come out with the mantra that Australia will do “no more no less” than the rest of the world when it comes to tackling climate change, it is abundantly clear that we are doing less.

We’re investing less.

According to a report released by the Pew Centre, China overtook the US and the rest of the rich world for the first time in clean energy investments last year. China invested $AUD 37.3 billion, a far cry from the $AUD 20billion by the US and in another league entirely from Australia’s $AUD 1.1billion. Australia even ranked behind developing countries such as Mexico, Turkey and India, to name a few.

We’re not playing our fair part in reducing emissions.

We are one of the worlds biggest per person emitters of climate change causing gases. But, we submitted to the UN post-Copenhagen one of the most disappointing pledges to reduce our domestic emissions. Erwin Jackson from The Climate Institute wrote in his blog that Australia “continues to free ride on global efforts to reduce emissions by keeping a 5 percent emissions reduction target on the table… It would have been helpful to global momentum, if Australia had lifted this 5 per cent “floor” in its target range to at least 15%.”

Why is Australia lagging behind?

Whoever we want to direct blame at it is clear that right now Australia is in danger of being a global laggard on climate action. While some in Australia continue to raise misconceptions that action on climate change has stalled, this risks our future prosperity. The world is not waiting for us to act. Why should we wait and let our competitors for jobs and investments get further ahead?

This weekend government representatives from all over the world will again meet at the home of the UN Climate Secretariat in Bonn, Germany, to amongst other things decide on how they will work together this year. What will their objectives for 2010 be? The outcomes from this meeting will give us important indicators as to how the world will work on climate policy this year.

There will be six international negotiator trackers on ground at the meeting hailing from Brazil, Canada, France, Italy, the UK, and the USA. You can get their latest blogstweets and video updates. As your Australian Climate Trackers we’ll also be in close contact with the international co-ordinator of the Climate Action Network of Australia who will be in Bonn to bring you news of the Australian delegation.

We’re not going to pretend that this meeting will be exciting. But we do know that it’s significant. That’s why we’re back and questioning why is Australia being a global laggard on climate action? If we’re currently doing so poorly, we can only improve…. right?

Comment on this blog and let us know what you think the Australian Government needs to do this year.

Tracking for you.

Cara & Phil

PS. You can also find this blog on our sister site Adopt A Negotiator