OECD tells Australia to lift its environmental game


The OECD has urged Australia to intensify its efforts to decarbonise its economy if it has any hope in meeting its 2030 emissions reduction target.

The OECD’s third Environmental Performance Review of Australia found that the country remains one of the most carbon-intensive economies in the bloc.

The review concluded that Australia needs to develop a long-term strategy that integrates energy and environmental policies to support its commitment to reducing emissions to 26-28% below 2005 levels by 2030.

The country remains one of the most dependent on non-renewable energy of the world’s developed economy, with fossil fuel consumption still benefitting from government support. Coal, oil and gas make up 93% of the overall energy mix compared to an OECD average of 80%. The share of renewables in electricity generation has risen to 16% but remains below the OECD average of 25%.

Of particular concern in the review was the pressure on the country’s biodiversity as a result of a fast-growing urban population.

“Australia is home to a tenth of global species and is seen by many as synonymous with pristine coastal areas and an outback brimming with nature. However the country is increasingly exposed to rising sea levels, floods, heat waves, bushfires and drought,” said OECD Deputy Environment Director Anthony Cox, launching the Review in Canberra.

“This makes it all the more important that Australia take a more proactive role in fighting climate change and addressing biodiversity loss.”

Recommendations in the Review include that Australia:

  • Implement a national integrated energy and climate policy framework for 2030 based on a low-emission development strategy for 2050, in line with the Paris Agreement.

  • Bring energy taxes in line with environmental impacts of fuel use. This implies taxing fuels that are currently exempt and increasing rates that are too low.

  • Extend road use pricing through distance-based and congestion charges.

  • Fill gaps in data on the status and trends of species and ecosystems, and establish national biodiversity indicators to measure progress and identify priorities for action.

  • Increase investment in biodiversity conservation ecological restoration in line with the scale of the challenge.

  • Improve monitoring of water resources, abstraction and quality across river basins. Do more to address water pollution from agriculture.

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