International cooperation on climate change
Committed to the Paris Agreement
Australia is party to the Paris Agreement. The Paris Agreement came into force in 2016. It was a major step forward in international efforts to address climate change. Other international treaties are the:
The Paris Agreement aims to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change by:
- holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels
- pursuing efforts to limit temperature increase to 1.5°C.
Nationally Determined Contributions
Under the Paris Agreement, Australia must submit emissions reduction commitments known as Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). These include our national target.
- 2015 NDC: committed to reduce emissions by 26 to 28% below 2005 levels by 2030.
- 2020 NDC update: affirmed the 2030 target, outlined Australia's practical, technology-led approach to emission reductions, include new actions and measures since 2015.
- 2021 NDC update: committed to net zero emissions by 2050, inscribed low emissions technology stretch goals, affirmed the 2030 target, and reported 2021 Projections results showing Australia is on track to exceed this target by up to 9 percentage points.
DFAT works with the Department of Industry, Science and Energy Resources to negotiate and meet Australia's emissions reduction obligations under the Paris Agreement. Australia will submit its next NDC, including our post–2030 target, to the UNFCCC in 2025.
Adaptation planning and implementation
Australia remains committed to taking action on implementing the Global Goal on Adaptation under the Paris Agreement.
The National Climate Resilience and Adaptation Strategy sets out what the Australian Government will do to support efforts across all levels of government, businesses and the community, to better anticipate, manage and adapt to the impacts of climate change.
Australia's first Adaptation Communication has been submitted to the UNFCCC ahead of COP26, showcasing Australia's practical climate adaptation action at home and in the region.
DFAT works with the Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment to meet Australia's adaptation commitments under the Paris Agreement.
Australia is committed to doing its part to meet the UNFCCC's climate finance goals. We are extending our commitment to build climate change resilience, mitigation and adaptation with a $2 billion commitment over 2020-25 to be implemented through Australia's development program.
Historically, about 70% of Australia's bilateral and regional climate finance is directed towards adaptation and resilience programming in our region, prioritising the most vulnerable to climate change, especially Small Islands Developing States and Least Developed Countries.
Australia has been providing climate finance for more than 25 years and will continue its work with other developed countries and the OECD to track progress towards the USD100 billion per annum goal. Australia will also continue to support UNFCCC climate finance work, including through our representation on the Standing Committee on Finance.
United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)
The 1992 UNFCCC is the primary framework for international climate change cooperation. Its overarching objective is to stabilise greenhouse gas concentrations at a level that would prevent dangerous human induced interference with the climate system. The Convention is a framework document augmented and updated by subsequent agreements, including the 1997 Kyoto Protocol and the 2015 Paris Agreement.
Australia is the chair of the Umbrella Group, an influential negotiating group that includes the United States, Japan, New Zealand, Canada, Norway and others.
Australia values transparency and submits regular national reports to the UNFCCC in line with its reporting requirements. For more on our reporting progress to the UNFCCC visit the Department of Industry, Science,Energy and Resources.
Australia holds regular climate change discussions with other countries at ministerial and senior officials' level, to share information, develop best practice and build joint efforts.
This engagement is led by the Australia Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Australian Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources and the Office of the Special Adviser to the Australian Government on Low Emissions Technology, Dr Alan Finkel.
Action on Biodiversity
Climate change and biodiversity loss are inextricably linked. Australia is actively participating in the Convention on Biological Diversity Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework negotiations. The Framework is due to be agreed at the next Convention on Biological Diversity Conference of Parties (COP15), commencing in October 2021 and concluding in 2022.
The Convention on Biological Diversity guides international action on a broad range of biodiversity issues and provides a guiding framework which informs domestic biodiversity conservation priorities. The protection of biodiversity is critical as Australia is one of 17 countries in the world described as ‘mega diverse'. This group of countries cover less than 10% of the world's area but support more than 70% of biodiversity, most of which is endemic.
Australia is a member of the High Ambition Coalition for Nature and People, a global pact to protect 30% of the world's land areas and of sea areas, to halt the loss of species and ecosystems.
Action on oceans and their ecosystems
Australia is committed to actions to maintain the health of the world's oceans. In 2021 Australia joined the Global Ocean Alliance, which commits to protecting 30% of our oceans by 2030, including from the impacts of climate change. The Prime Minister is a member of the High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy (the only ocean policy body comprised of serving world leaders), which released its Call to Ocean-Based Climate Action in 2019 outlining how the ocean and ocean industries can help to mitigate and adapt to climate change
Australia launched the International Partnership for Blue Carbon at the 2015 Paris Climate Conference and it has now grown to almost 50 members. The Partnership aims to build awareness, share knowledge and accelerate practical action to protect and restore mangroves, tidal marshes and seagrasses. This contributes to climate change mitigation through carbon sequestration as well as other co-benefits including enhancing biodiversity, food security, sustainable livelihoods, increasing resilience and contributing to climate adaptation. We are partnering with regional neighbours on coastal blue carbon protection and restoration, including funding programs with Papua New Guinea and Fiji ($6 million), Indonesia ($2 million), the Indian Rim Association ($750,000) and Sri Lanka ($300,000).
Australia is also committed to supporting the world's coral reefs, which are particularly exposed to the impacts of climate change. Australia is a founding member of the International Coral Reef Initiative, providing $1 million to its Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network. The Network helps to monitor the health of coral reef ecosystems, informing conservation and management. In addition, we are investing $3 million in the ReefCloud project which will develop and apply a new generation of coral reef monitoring technology on reefs in the Pacific islands to support coral reef resilience and sustainable livelihoods.
Action on rainforests
Australia has taken a leading role in building support for action to slow, halt and reverse the loss of rainforests, and is partnering with a regional host to deliver the Fourth Asia-Pacific Rainforest Summit in 2022.
Climate and Clean Air Coalition
Australia is a partner in the Climate and Clean Air Coalition, which brings together more than 100 partners to reduce and avoid emissions of fast acting pollutants, such as methane, hydrofluorocarbons and black carbon.
Global Environment Facility (GEF)
Australia is a contributor to the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and is a member of the GEF Council. Through our GEF contributions we meet our obligations under treaties to support developing countries address issues such as climate change, biodiversity, desertification, organic pollutants and mercury. GEF is a partnership of 183 countries, international institutions, civil society and the private sector. The GEF supports the following international environment agreements: Convention on Biological Diversity, Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, UN Convention to Combat Desertification, UNFCCC, Minamata Convention on Mercury, and Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer.
Australia joined Mission Innovation, a group of countries committed to doubling governmental investment in clean energy innovation over five years, at the 2015 Paris Climate Conference. Mission Innovation members are collaborating around a set of innovation challenges to accelerate technology breakthroughs in priority areas: smart grids; off-grid access to electricity; carbon capture and storage; sustainable biofuels; converting sunlight; clean energy materials; affordable heating and cooling of buildings; and hydrogen.
International Solar Alliance (ISA)
The International Solar Alliance (ISA) was launched at the 2015 Paris Climate Conference, aiming to promote the roll out of solar technology, particularly in countries that have high solar resources but under-developed electricity access. Australia is a founding member of the ISA and has committed to share its knowledge and expertise for capacity building with other ISA Members. For example, Australia is offering free tailored expert advice, webinars and training, and a library of tools and resources for policy development through the Clean Energy Solutions Centre.
Global Power System Transformation
Widespread global uptake of new and emerging technologies like hydrogen, carbon capture and storage, soil carbon measurement, low-carbon materials like steel and aluminium and long duration energy storage can reduce emissions or eliminate them in sectors responsible for 90% of the world's emissions.
Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Alliance
Through the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research, Australia is the current Chair of the Global Research Alliance (GRA) on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases and leads global initiatives to reduce agricultural greenhouse gases.