Australia has come third last in an annual assessment of 58 nations’ climate policies, with only Saudi Arabia and Kazakhstan ranking worse.

The assessment by Germanwatch and Climate Action Network Europe was released at the Paris climate summit, just one day after foreign minister Julie Bishop told the assembled ministers Australia was meeting and beating its climate targets and transforming its energy production.

The report measures actual emission levels per capita, the trend in emissions projections, the deployment of renewable energy, and the energy intensity of the economy, and assesses climate policies for each of the 58 countries.

Australia’s score is slightly better than last year, but not enough to shift it very far up the rankings.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop is attending the gathering in the French capital, and has cited the Government’s national innovation strategy as an approach Australia is taking to reduce emissions.

Bishop says that Australia will ‘lead by example’ in addressing climate change through technology and inventiveness.

But our track record in emissions reduction has come under fire, with the release overnight of the annual Climate Change Performance Index, which ranks Australia third last out of 58 nations.

The report is published by NGOs Climate Action Network Europe and Germanwatch, and its findings have been seized upon by environmentalists as proof that Australia is lagging behind the rest of the world.

“Experts criticise that Australia’s attitude appeared to be to try to avoid making any substantive commitments, and to do the absolute minimum that it has to. There appeared to be no recognition of Australia’s national interest in minimising climate change; rather, the focus seems to be on protecting domestic energy and resource exporters (coal and gas industry),” it says.

Denmark topped the ranking, while the UK, Sweden, Belgium and France all scored well. Japan and Korea ranked only slightly higher than Australia.