While Australia has staged a ‘fragile reversal’ in its previously declining low-carbon competiveness, Asia, driven by China, has emerged as the key performing in developing preparedness for the future low-carbon economy according to the new GE Energy/Climate Institute’s Global Climate Leadership Review 2013 report.

“Australia’s fragile improvement in low carbon competitiveness has occurred against a backdrop of delicate but important progress in UN climate negotiations, cuts in clean energy costs, growth in global carbon pricing and other policies and continuing strong investment in clean energy,” said John Connor, CEO, The Climate Institute. 

“It’s clear that the centre of clean energy gravity is shifting to Asia, China in particular. China has improved its ability to compete in the global low-carbon economy significantly, boosted by high-tech exports and just under half of global public equity investment in clean energy.”

Other key findings from The Climate Institute/GE Low-Carbon Competitiveness Index include:

  • The top performers are France, Japan, China, South Korea and the UK. France and the UK rank similar as before. Three of the top five best placed countries are now in Asia.
  • China has leapt ahead of its previous score: it is now 3rd up from 7th. If China had not increased its clean energy investments, it would be in 8th place.
  • The most dramatic decline in performance relates to the United States, which is now 11th down from 8th. Its decline is mainly due to lower public equity investment in clean energy, shrinking high-tech exports and a surge in reliance on emission intensive air freight.
  • Australia is 17th but has slightly improved its low-carbon competitiveness due to a  number of factors along with relative good economic health:
    • increased investment in infrastructure and to a lesser extent education;
    • a slight increase in energy efficiency in the transport sector; and
    • an unusual but likely short lived drop in the value of natural resources as a  proportion of national income.

Recent findings also show that 29 out of 35 of the OECD member countries have a higher effective carbon price than Australia.

The Climate Institute/GE Low-Carbon Competitiveness Index and the full Global Climate Leadership Review 2013 can be found here.