South Australia is a world leader when it comes to renewable energy but other states including Victoria have missed out on investment worth billions of dollars, a report has found.
Australia is being put in a vulnerable position without clear federal policy and changes to the renewable energy target, Climate Council chief councillor Professor Tim Flannery says.
Prof Flannery said the Australian government has to stop dragging its feet and be willing to address the issues, instead of seeking to reduce its target of 20 per cent renewable energy by 2020.
"If we can forge a policy mix, a policy formula, that serves our economy well, that allows us to do our bit for combating climate change at a commensurate level from what we've seen China and the US do, I think people will be satisfied."
Prof Flannery says individual states are being put under pressure to perform and the Climate Council report released on Tuesday has recorded varying results.
He said South Australia took action early and now got 36 per cent of its energy from renewable resources while less than four per cent of Victoria's energy is renewable.
"Victoria has got fantastic wind and solar resources, every bit as good as South Australia but we're seeing here a laggard state," he said.
"We haven't seen the investment here in Victoria that we would otherwise have expected.
"Victoria has probably missed out on $4 billion worth of investment in the renewable energy sector."
Prof Flannery said the NSW government has seen the error of its ways and is now committed to a renewable focus.
"The Baird government, a Liberal government, up there is now committed to a new focus on renewable energy because they're missing out on billions of dollars of investment and they understand that and they need the job creation and investment that comes with that," he said.
Prof Flannery said countries like India were ones to watch.
"If you look at India it has a very complex mix and it's the next energy frontier really," he said.
"I think the renewables are where India's going to go, but really we will know in five years' time anyway."
HOW THE STATES RATE ACCORDING TO THE CLIMATE COUNCIL:
* Australia's current renewable energy target is 20 per cent by 2020
* 36 per cent of South Australia's energy is renewable
* New SA target is 50 per cent renewable energy by 2025
* ACT has set renewable energy target of 90 per cent by 2020
* 21,000 jobs created from renewable investment in Australia
* Victoria and NSW have no targets for reducing emissions or increasing renewable energy
* Australia's potential for renewable energy generation is 500 times greater than current power generation capacity
* Investment in renewable energy in Australia is 70 per cent less in 2014 than in 2013.