Morrison Government’s climate record deemed ‘a catastrophic failure’: one in four Australians give zero rating

A new report by the Climate Council finds the Federal Liberal-National Government has overwhelmingly failed on climate action over its three terms of government.

The Lost Years: Counting the Costs of Climate Inaction in Australia report assesses the Federal Government on climate with the introduction of a scorecard, surmising its overall performance as ‘a catastrophic failure’.

The report comes close on the heels of the 2022-2023 Federal Budget, which contains successive cuts for climate funding over the next four years, with total spending on climate initiatives reducing to just 0.2% of total expenditure.

New data from a national poll* of 1,299 Australians, conducted by SMS and commissioned by the Climate Council shows Australians – on average – rate the Morrison Government’s performance on climate change and its response to worsening extreme weather events a 3 out of 10.

One in four (26%) surveyed rated the Morrison Government a 0 for ‘not doing anything at all’.

Among 18 to 25-year-olds, the average score was 1.5. No segment of the 1,299 surveyed – by age, voting preference or location – rated the Government more than a 4.8 out of 10.

Climate Council CEO Amanda McKenzie said: “Right now, Australians are suffering through the nightmare of an off the charts flooding disaster. Despite this, the Liberal-National Government has cut funding for effective climate initiatives yet again. It’s mind boggling.

“The record is clear, in eight years, the Federal Government’s decisions have exacerbated the climate crisis and they have tried to cover up their policy failings.

“The government has repeatedly embarrassed us on the world stage with hollow rhetoric and no credible climate policies

“Australians have lost almost a decade of what should’ve been our moment to take strong and bold action on climate. We could be a nation that has embraced the limitless economic potential of a swift transition to renewables, but instead we’re clinging to coal, oil and gas. It’s no wonder Australians rate the Morrison Government so poorly on this issue.”

Climate Councillor Emeritus Professor Will Steffen, added: “The cuts to climate science under this Federal Government have been very damaging. Significant cuts were made in 2014 to Australia’s climate science capacity, crippling our ability to understand the risks and impacts of climate change to Australia, and diminishing our contribution to the global climate science effort.

“And on the other hand, Australia’s fossil fuel production has expanded 19 per cent over the last three terms of this government. Because of this government’s inaction on climate, we now have even less time left to act to avoid catastrophic warming. We also need to deal with the accelerating consequences that are already with us, as we’ve just seen with the east coast floods, and get ready for even worse.”

Professor Tim Flannery, Chief Climate Councillor, added: “One of the first acts of the Government in 2013, then led by Tony Abbott, was to abolish the Climate Commission, which sent a pretty clear message that the Liberal-National Government had a disregard for climate science and expert advice.

“Since then, we’ve had a Government that has deliberately misled the public on climate solutions and has hid its lack of climate action. And in the Federal LNP’s term in Government, we’ve seen successive cuts to climate funding and an escalation of extreme disasters. The Morrison Government’s climate leadership failure is putting Australians, the economy, and the ecosystems we depend on at risk.”

The Lost Years key findings:

  • The Climate Council has assessed the Federal Government’s climate performance over the past eight years in detail and finds there’s been a complete and catastrophic failure to act on the climate crisis.
  • A lack of climate action at the national level is a defining leadership failure of the past eight years. Australians are living with the everyday consequences of this, and we must work quickly to prevent catastrophe.
  • The Federal Government has covered up poor performance with misleading claims, dubious accounting and censorship.
  • Australia’s next government must adopt credible climate policies as a matter of extreme urgency. This includes transparent and accurate reporting of Australia’s climate performance.

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