The ranking comes from an international performance index released at United Nations climate talks currently happening in Lima, Peru.
The same climate change performance index ranked Denmark as the best-performing country in the world, followed by Sweden and Britain.
The index covers the performance of countries across five areas: first, the level of emissions, then the trends in emissions, energy efficiency, renewable energy policies and the approach to climate change at national and international levels.
Amongst the worst performing countries (the world’s top 10 emitters), Germany grabbed the top spot, while Australia was second from the bottom – above Saudi Arabia which is not classified formally as an industrial nation.
Together with Russia, Iran Canada and Kazakhstan, Australian and Saudi Arabia made up the bottom six countries in the global climate change ranking.
“The new conservative Australian government has apparently made good on last year’s announcement and reversed the climate policies previously in effect. As a result, the country lost a further 21 positions in the policy evaluation compared to last year, thus replacing Canada as the worst-performing industrial country,” the report states.
China, the world’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gases that cause climate change, was in 45th position on the list, only one spot below the United States.
It is hoped the UN talks will establish the next draft of a new international climate change agreement to be signed by all the countries before the next round of major discussion takes place in Paris late next year.
“Australia has been heading backwards by undertaking actions such as attempting to kneecap the renewable energy industry through regressive policy changes,” Erwin Jackson, of the Australian charity the Climate Institute, told reporters.
“We also should be playing our fair part in global action, not trying to free ride on the actions of others,” he added.
Only a month ago, the UN environment programme report named Australia alongside Canada, the US and Mexico as the only three industrial countries that were likely to miss their 2020 targets to cut emissions.
The scrapping of Australia’s carbon price was directly linked to Australia’s failure to cut emissions by five per cent by 2020.