16/11/2017 12:59 AM AEDT | Updated 16/11/2017 12:59 AM AEDT

Australia's Climate Performance Ranks Fourth Last On Long List

Well, at least we're better than Saudi Arabia.

Peter Charlesworth via Getty Images

Not good. Not good at all.

Australia ranks fourth last out of 57 countries on the Climate Change Performance Index -- a ranking that charts the efforts which various countries have been making to avoid dangerous climate change.

The CPPI is compiled by three independent groups which monitor climate change and renewable energy policies -- the Climate Action Network, GermanWatch and the NewClimate Institute. The index has been going for 13 years and ranks countries according to four main criteria:

  • emissions (this category has double weighting)
  • climate policy
  • energy efficiency (which includes things like building standards and appliance standards)
  • renewable energies

This is an unusual "list". Positions 1, 2 and 3 remain vacant as they have in previous years, because the authors of the Index feel no country has yet done enough to prevent the dangerous impacts of climate change to earn a podium spot.

But otherwise, there are no holes on the list, which places Saudi Arabia on the bottom. Above it is Iran, then Korea, then Australia, then the U.S.

So why is our record on tackling climate change so woeful?

Daniel Munoz / Reuters

"Australia being judged so poorly lines up with the fact we haven't had good climate policy," Australian Conservation Foundation climate change and clean energy campaigner Suzanne Harter told HuffPost Australia.

"We have a national energy crisis, our renewable energy target is low compared with most other countries, fossil fuels are still generating a lot of energy and there's no policy to unwind that, and we don't have a carbon price or anything that puts a penalty on pollution."

The Australian Conservation Foundation produced two really interesting graphs to go along with the report. In the first, you can see how emissions in Australia started going back up around the time of the Coalition government being elected in 2013.

The second is a close-up snapshot of the right hand side of the first graph.

Australian Conservation Foundation

"The big question mark is what in the world is this government going to do around energy and climate?" the ACF's Suzanne Harter said.

"They've put out a National Energy Guarantee with very little detail around it. We're just not doing enough, and this global comparison is calling this out with data."