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Australia—Falling Behind

In 2015, Australia pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 26 to 28% as part of a United Nation’s agreement presented at COP21 in Paris. In making its Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) to the Paris Agreement, the Government said that, “Australia will continue to play our part in an effective global response to climate change. Australia will implement an economy-wide target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 26 to 28% below 2005 levels by 2030.”

A recent report from Climate Tracker (  described Australia’s progress in implementing the Paris Agreement as inadequate. The Citizens Climate Agreement Campaign report also gave Australia’s initial pledge only one of five possible stars. The pledge is clear and unconditional, however it is not as aggressive as needed and calls for reductions at a slower pace than other developed nations.

Australia’s carbon pricing in 2012 initially appeared to signal a bright future for the nation’s environmental initiatives. However, a repeal of that same carbon pricing and political gridlock have slowed efforts to reduce emissions. Political tensions getting in the way of clean energy progress is sharply criticized in a Bloomberg article titled, “How Not to Transform a Power Grid: Lessons From Australia.”

In addition, Australia is redirecting some of its foreign aid budget toward domestic security measures. While the amount is small in relation to its national GDP, these funds could have gone to mitigation strategies for some of Australia’s Pacific Island neighbors who have criticized Australia’s lack of leadership in the region.

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