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Press Release

Australia alone in low-carbon competitiveness slide

March 18, 2012

Sydney, 19 March 2012: Australia is the only G20 country that has gone backwards on its low-carbon competitiveness since 1995 according to the Global Climate Leadership Review 2012 released today by The Climate Institute.

In an innovative index from The Climate Institute and GE that measures a country's ability to prosper in the emerging global low carbon economy, Australia rates the worst of any advanced economy. Ranked 16th among the G20 nations, Australia is the only country which has a current score lower than it had in 1995.

"Despite political and economic uncertainty, global carbon markets and clean energy investments grew in 2011, boosting the importance of looking at the carbon competitiveness of nations. And with CSIRO reporting greenhouse gases are at their highest for 800,000 years, how nations cooperate on addressing climate change really matters," said John Connor, CEO, The Climate Institute.

"Looking at the index, countries that performed well in the rankings are those who have recognised the inextricable link between economic, resource security and climate change policies and are acting accordingly."

The Climate Institute/GE Low-Carbon Competitiveness Index is a key feature of the Global Climate Leadership Review.

The index measures carbon competitiveness through the examination of nearly 20 indicators in three areas: sectoral composition (historical snapshot of current economy -- e.g. transport, trade emissions intensity); early preparedness (e.g. investment in clean energy, growth in emissions); and future prosperity (e.g. investment in education and infrastructure).

"GE believes that securing Australia's carbon competitiveness is crucial to long term prosperity and competitiveness," said Ben Waters, director ecomagination, GE Australia and New Zealand. "While the report shows that Australia is lagging behind our major trading partners, there have been positive steps to change this trajectory. We believe a price on carbon is the most cost effective economic lever, but it's up to businesses to maximise the opportunities and mitigate the risks to ensure competitiveness in a carbon constrained future."

Other key findings in The Climate Institute/GE carbon competitiveness index include:

  • Ranked 16th among the G20 nations, Australia is the only developed country whose rankings have not improved since the first Index in 2009.
  • France, Japan, the United Kingdom, South Korea and Germany lead the index.
  • Australia is amongst those countries facing the biggest challenge in remaining competitive in a low-carbon future, ranked lower than Russia, Argentina, South Africa, the USA and Saudi Arabia in large part due to the emissions intensive structure of the economy.

"The passage of the Clean Energy Future legislation can help reverse Australia's remarkable decline in carbon competitiveness boosted by strategic policies in regional carbon markets, energy efficiency, clean energy, climate risk disclosure and climate diplomacy," said Connor.

The Global Climate Leadership Review also finds that far from acting alone on climate legislation, Australia is now among more than 100 nations that have climate policies targeting pollution limits and clean energy. Other countries including UK, Norway and Switzerland have or are implementing higher carbon prices.

"With a growing low carbon global economy and as the developed country most exposed to the extremes of climate change, Australia's national interest lies in enhancing both its carbon competitiveness and climate co-operation with other nations," said Connor.

The full report and the interactive Low-Carbon Competitiveness Index can be accessed at www.climateinstitute.org.au/global-review.

Joanne Woo
Corporate Communications Director, Australia & New Zealand
[email protected]
+61 409 330 731


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