Leaders from world’s twenty major economies have begun arriving in Brisbane for the G20 Summit. The issues they’ll be addressing include tax avoidance, free trade and the global economy. But unlike previous gatherings, one of the topics they won’t be discussing – at least as a key agenda item – is climate change.
These solar panels were made in China, but installed in a Sydney residential neighborhood last August. The manufacturer Yingli is the world’s largest, and has its eye on the sunshine continent. But a shift in Australia’s green energy policy – dubbed ’a backflip’ by some – has brought with it new market challenges.
“The large scale solar market has ground to a halt. It’s almost impossible to get a large scale utility solar project up and running at the moment, because there’s so much policy uncertainty, and investors just don’t have the confidence that they are going to make the returns they need,” Clare De Castella, Yingli Australia Marketing manager said.
Indeed, domestically, over the last year, investments in renewables have dropped some seventy percent, according to Australia’s independent Climate Council. Its report this week says the country – once a crucial player in global climate action – has moved from a leader to a laggard which may explain the topic’s noticeable absence from this weekend’s G20 agenda.
“The reality is that Australia has been leap-frogged by many other G20 countries in counteracting climate change. We’ve fallen behind the pack, and in many respects are moving away from the pack so far as the overall trajectory of the global economy is concerned,” Travers McLeod with Center For Policy Development said.
Five years ago, Australia’s Labor prime minister called climate change “the greatest moral challenge of our generation.” But last year, conservative Tony Abbott won office, promising – among other things – to scrap a tax on carbon emissions. He did just that a move many saw it as the start of this government’s reversal on climate change policy.