Australians have become used to being somewhat unique. Basically emerging entirely unscathed from the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) and with an economy that continues to buck global trends, we wear our ‘lucky country’ badge with pride. But are we really the lucky country? And will we continue to prosper in the future global economy?
The Global Climate Leadership 2012 Review released by The Climate Institute last week includes the Low Carbon Competitiveness Index (LCCI), by analysts at Vivid Economics, a ranking of the G20 countries based on their predicted low carbon competitiveness measured by nineteen variables. The first index was undertaken in 2009 and the 2012 index uses the most recent data available and reassesses the position of the G20 countries. The 2012 index backcasts the data to 1995 to examine how countries’ rankings change over time.
Far from looking like the lucky country, Australia is ranked 16th and is the worst performing advanced economy in the G20. Australia is the only country which currently has a lower score than in 1995. In this same period China, South Korea and Mexico have made significant improvements. So we may have remained unique, but unique no longer seems so appealing in this light!
It is important to note that the LCCI does not incorporate the recent Clean Energy Future initiatives (beginning July 1 2012) that will assist Australia in advancing its readiness for a low carbon world. However, we also lag in the ever-expanding area of clean energy investment and renewable energy. At the risk of sounding entirely cynical, I would say that Australia’s lucky country badge seems at risk of being revoked.
The Australian economy has survived the GFC but we must act now to transform our success to date into future success in an increasingly carbon constrained global economy. It won’t be luck that ensures our good fortune is translated into future prosperity, but hard political decisions, backed by business and the community.
Future ‘climate campaigns’ in Australia must convince or inspire the community to demand (or at least accept) tough long-term decisions made by politicians in this policy area. Australians value their place in the world and their seat at the table, and effective communication about not only the risks of inaction, but also the productivity benefits of action should convince Australians that economic and social prosperity is not just about the here and now. Our ongoing prosperity will be determined by our preparedness for the future.