Climate change is a global problem that requires all nations to come together to be a part of the solution. Australia equates to 5.15% of the world’s landmasses and 1.3% of greenhouse gas emissions, the 13th largest emitter in the world per capita out of 195 nations.

Countries by carbon dioxide emissions in thousands of tonnes per annum, via the burning of fossil fuels.
Countries by carbon dioxide emissions in thousands of tonnes per annum, via the burning of fossil fuels.

Australia’s Emissions Reduction Target

Earlier in the year, the Climate Change Authority* determined Australia needed to reduce its emissions by 40 to 60% of the 2000 levels by 2030 (or 45 to 65% below 2005 levels). This suggested target was the bare minimum for Australia to assist the world in avoiding a 2˚C warming.

On the 11th August 2015, the Australian Government announced that it would cut greenhouse gas emissions by 26 to 28% on 2005 levels by 2030, well below the target recommended by the Climate Change Authority.

The 2020 and 2030 recommended emission reduction targets from the Climate Change Authority.

 Australia vs The World

What does Australia’s targets look like compared to other nations? Not very good.

If all of Australia’s coal resources were burned, it would consume two-thirds of the global carbon budget based on a 75% chance to meet the 2°C warming limit. Credit: Climate Council

Australia has already been warned that they are not on track to meet their 2020 targets unlike many other nations who have decreased their emissions and are increasing the efforts to reduce future emissions.

Australia will not only continue to be one of the highest emitting nations per capita but many other nations will reduce their emissions quicker than Australia.

“Australia’s target for reduction in absolute emissions is significantly weaker than that of the United States and the EU, weaker than Canada’s, and on par with Japan’s.”

Professor Frank Jotzo, Director of the Centre for Climate Economics and Policy at ANU

Who is representing Australia?

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull arrived in Paris at the beginning of the week with the emission reduction target of 26 to 28% on 2005 levels by 2030 (this was inherited from the Abbott government and did not change when Turnbull came into power).

During the early days of the conference, Turnbull committed to doubling Australia’s investment in clean energy research and development over the next five years alongside 20 other nations and in partnership with several innovation based technology companies.


Australia will double the funding for clean energy research and development over the next five years. Credit: Climate Council

For the remainder of the Paris climate summit, environment minister Greg Hunt and the Australian delegation will be responsible for negotiating on Australia’s behalf.

* The Climate Change Authority provides expert advice on Australian Government climate change mitigation initiatives.