Australia Ranks High in Human Development Index But Scores Low in Climate Change

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The Queen Mary 2 sets sail past the Sydney Opera House, February 19, 2014.
The Queen Mary 2 sets sail past the Sydney Opera House, February 19, 2014. REUTERS REUTERS/Jason Reed

Australia has been ranked one of the best places in the world to live in with the recent United Nations Human Development Report reaffirming the country's position. The 2014 UN Report said Australia ranked second in the world for human development.

The human development index (HDI) ranks countries based on a number of criteria including health, income, education and gender equality. The UN Development Report Office used the data to see how the 187 nations fared against the HDI.

While income is a significant factor to a country's position on the HDI, other categories have their own eight. Australia may be ranked nineteenth in gross national income per capita, the country has a higher overall rank in education and life expectancy. Australia surpassed nations with higher incomes such as the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Luxembourg.

The UN report revealed that the gap between the poorest and richest countries is gradually narrowing since the 1980s. However, the UN also found that more than 2.2 billion people are either nearing or living in "multidimensional poverty." It covers people who are deemed poor in health, education and quality of life.

More than 15 per cent of the world's population is at risk to multidimensional poverty. The report also said 12 per cent or about 842 million people experience constant hunger.

In terms of health, Australia ranks high on life expectancy but has a low score in obesity. The country's total health expenditure is lower compared to other developed nations. However, the amount of health expenses spent by households is high or nearly as much as what people spend in the U.S.

While Australia ranks high in the overall quality of life, the country is one of the lowest users of renewable energy and ranked third among nations with the highest carbon emissions. The repeal of the carbon tax and efforts to remove the renewable energy target may be a step back for Australia as the rest of the world moves toward creating policies to reduce emissions to meet the international target. 

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