PM’s Renewable Energy Investment Claim Misleading and Incorrect

The claim that Australia ranks first globally per capita on renewable energy investment is both misleading and incorrect, according to new research from the Australia Institute.

Speaking at the UN General Assembly in New York, Prime Minister Morrison claimed Australia has the highest per capita investment in clean energy in the world. This claim was repeated in Parliament in Question Time this week, and is set to be interrogated during Senate Estimates.

Key Findings

  • Analysis of the data provided by the Department of Energy in support of the Prime Minister’s claim shows Australia is not first but third amongst just 23 countries for clean energy investment per capita
  • Looking at just the year 2018, the Department of Energy admits Australia is actually only second — not first — when it comes to 2018 renewable energy investment per capita, among a select group of 30 countries, not the whole world
  • The data excludes small island states with small populations and high renewable energy investments, such as Tuvalu which are much more likely to top a true global per capita list than Australia
  • This data also shows that across the last decade, Australia comes in at just 5th for clean energy investment per capita among a select group of 23 countries
  • Australia’s ranks even further down the list in terms of investment per GDP, and ranks 19th in terms of total installed renewable capacity.

“The Prime Minister laid down the challenge to check this claim, so we did. We found even according to the Government’s own Departmental data, this claim does not add up,” said Richie Merzian, Climate & Energy Program Director at the Australia Institute.

“It is important that national climate debates are based on facts. It is a fact that Australia is not first the world for clean energy, not first for renewable investment per capita, that Australia’s emissions per capita are very high, and Australian emissions are still rising.

“It is misleading for the Government to cherry-pick one boom year, and even then Australia ranked second not first. What the Prime Minister conveniently omits is 2018 was preceded by bust created by uncertainty around cutting the renewable energy target. If the Government had not cut the RET, there would be 24% more renewable energy installed by 2020.

“Australia has seen a remarkable renewable boom in recent years, but unfortunately the data is already showing a drop in renewable investment.

“Australia is not leading the world for clean energy or renewable investment per capita. To be a true renewable energy world leader, what the industry needs is the right federal policy settings and support structures from its policymakers.”

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