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Climate change

Climate change

Australia is resolutely committed to the Paris Agreement. Our Foreign Policy White Paper recognises that climate change will present increasing challenges in the coming years as well as opportunities in transiting to a low emissions global economy. Given the challenges to sustainable development presented by climate change, the White Paper also highlights that responding to climate change will continue to be a priority for Australia's development assistance.

An effective response to climate change requires collective action by all countries and sectors. Recognising this, Australia contributes to action under multilateral platforms including the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Montreal Protocol, the International Civil Aviation Organization and the International Maritime Organization.

Australia provides detailed submissions to the UNFCCC annually as part of its Paris Agreement commitments. Australia’s first Biennial Communication (2020) was recently submitted and builds on our two previous submissions: Strategies and Approaches (2018) and the Fourth Biennial Report (2019). The submission includes the fact that Australia met and exceeded its 2015-20 commitment to provide at least $1 billion in climate finance over five years, providing $1.4 billion to support developing countries reduce emissions and build resilience to climate change.

On 11 December 2020, Prime Minister Morrison announced that Australia would extend its climate finance commitment with a $1.5 billion pledge over 2020-2025, to be implemented through Australia’s development program. Australia’s Climate Change Action Strategy, released in November 2019, will guide delivery of that climate change assistance over coming years. The Strategy targets Australian development assistance to support the goals of the Paris Agreement to address climate change, while strengthening socially inclusive, gender-responsive sustainable development in our region.

As chair of the "Umbrella Group" of countries, Australia played a constructive role in negotiations under the UNFCCC to reach the Paris Agreement in 2015, and the package of rules for its implementation at Katowice, Poland in 2018. Under the Paris Agreement, Australia committed to reduce emissions by 26-28 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030. This builds on our target under the Kyoto Protocol to reduce emissions by five per cent below 2000 levels by 2020, which we have currently more than achieved, at almost 17 per cent. Our 2030 target represents a halving of emissions per person.

Australia is focused on the shared task of creating a pathway to net zero emissions through practical, scalable and commercially viable technologies. Our focus on technology reflects the belief that targets must be complemented by action that is practical, and a pathway to their achievement. The Technology Investment Roadmap has been launched as a framework to drive Australia’s efforts of reaching net zero emissions as soon as possible in partnership with the States, Territories and private sector.

Partnerships with countries including Japan, Singapore, Germany and Korea are also part of Australia’s efforts to make low emissions technologies scalable and commercially viable. An important element of the framework outlined in the Roadmap are annual Low Emissions Technology Statements. Australia has appointed former Chief Scientist Dr Alan Finkel as Special Adviser on Low Emissions Technology. Dr Finkel is spearheading efforts to accelerate the development and commercialisation of low emissions technologies.

More information about Australia's domestic mitigation efforts and adaptation efforts can be found at the website of the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment.

The UN Global Biodiversity Outlook 5 (GBO-5) assessed that the rate of biodiversity loss is unprecedented in human history and pressures are intensifying. Climate change and biodiversity loss are considered twin global challenges that need to be addressed in a more coordinated manner. Supporting and conserving healthy, functioning and resilient biological systems is particularly important for Australia because we have around 10 per cent of the world's biodiversity and are one of the 17 megadiverse countries that together account for almost 70 per cent of the world's species. As a party to the Convention on Biological Diversity, Australia contributes to development of a global biodiversity framework and targets to conserve and use biodiversity in a sustainable manner and share benefits arising from genetic resources in a fair and equitable way. Australia’s Strategy for Nature coordinates national delivery of Australia’s commitments to the Convention on Biological Diversity, its Aichi Targets, and other international agreements including the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its Sustainable Development Goals, the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands and the Convention on Migratory Species.

Australia is leading global partnerships to protect rainforests such as the Asia-Pacific Rainforest Partnership and marine ecosystems, including the International Coral Reef Initiative and the International Partnership for Blue Carbon. Australia's world-leading climate research capabilities continue to make globally recognised contributions to climate science, helping the world to understand the way the climate is changing and the impacts we need to manage.

Australia has internationally recognised technical expertise in the design and implementation of measurement, reporting and verification (MRV) systems. Australia is helping countries including Indonesia, Thailand, China and Kenya build MRV systems. Australia's work through the Global Forest Observations Initiative (2013-2020) supports developing countries in the Asia-Pacific, Africa and South America to build capabilities and systems for forest carbon accounting. We are also building capacity in measurement, reporting and verification of greenhouse gas mitigation, and support for the development of blue carbon inventories in the Pacific and Indonesia.

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