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Climate change

International cooperation on climate change

Australia is a strategic funder of the Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosures (TNFD), a global initiative developing a risk management and disclosure framework for businesses to report and act on their nature-related risks and realise nature-positive opportunities. The Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water (DCCEEW) is working closely with the private sector to showcase Australian leadership and drive engagement with the TNFD framework.

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.

On 16 June 2022, the Australian Government lodged a new NDC, setting an ambitious 2030 target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 43 per cent below 2005 levels, putting us on track to achieve our net zero emissions by 2050 target.

On 8 September 2022, Australia passed new Climate Change Legislation which has enshrined these targets into law.

Adaptation planning and implementation

Australia has a strong history of supporting and investing in climate adaptation both at home and in our region. Domestically, the Australian Government is taking concerted action to adapt to climate impacts and to build resilience and disaster readiness in our communities, such as by

  • undertaking an urgent climate risk assessment of the implications of climate change for national security
  • investing up to $200 million per year to strengthen disaster preparedness and resilience
  • supporting private investment in nature capital and nature-based solutions for climate adaptation, addressing biodiversity loss and supporting livelihoods in partnership with First Nations Peoples
  • protecting Australia's unique environment by fixing Australia's urban rivers and catchments, doubling the number of Indigenous Rangers, which recognises the importance of utilising First Nation's knowledge and experience to address the climate crisis
  • investing in the health and resilience of our ocean ecosystems, including by
    • expanding management of our Marine Protected Area networks from 37 per cent to 45 per cent of our waters and
    • delivering an additional $194.5 million in Great Barrier Reef protection programs over the forward estimates, on top of existing programs. This will bring total investment by 2030 to almost $1.2 billion.
  • Restoring blue carbon ecosystems across Australia, including mangroves, seagrasses, and tidal marshes, by investing $9.5 million to support five new practical restoration projects.

We established a Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water on 1 July 2022, so that climate mitigation and adaptation, as well as the climate and biodiversity crises, can be addressed holistically.

Climate finance

At COP26, Australia announced $2 billion in climate finance for 2020-2025, a doubling of Australia's 2015-2020 pledge. This includes a commitment of $700 million to build climate change and disaster resilience in the Pacific.

The Australian Government will increase its support for our Pacific partners including through a new Pacific Climate Infrastructure Financing Partnership to support climate-related infrastructure and energy projects in Pacific countries and Timor-Leste, and Official Development Assistance to address climate change adaptation and resilience.

We are working with our partners in Southeast Asia on the transition to net-zero and unlocking green trade and investment opportunities. This includes establishing a new $200 million climate and infrastructure partnership with Indonesia.

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.

Bilateral initiatives

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.

Australia is collaborating with partners, concluding agreements with Germany, Indonesia, Japan, Republic of Korea, Singapore, UK, US and Vietnam.

This engagement is led by the Australia Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water.

Action on biodiversity

Climate change and biodiversity loss are inextricably linked. Australia is actively participating in negotiation of a new post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework – a strategic plan for action on biodiversity over the next decade – under the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). The Framework is due to be agreed at Part II of the fifteenth Conference of the Parties to the CBD (COP15.2) in December 2022.

The CBD guides international action on a broad range of biodiversity issues and provides a guiding framework which informs domestic biodiversity conservation priorities. This is of particular importance to Australia because it 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 (HAC), a global pact with over 100 members, to protect 30% of the world's land areas and of sea areas (known as 30 by 30), to halt the loss of species and ecosystems. The HAC is championing the inclusion of a 30 by 30 target in the GBF. The Australian Government has also set a domestic goal to protect and conserve 30 per cent of Australia's land and 30 per cent of Australia's oceans by 2030.

Action on plastics

Plastic pollution is a global issue that cannot be solved alone. In March 2022, Australia joined the global fight to end plastic pollution at the 5th session of the UN Environment Assembly, agreeing to negotiate a new global treaty on plastic pollution. Australia strongly supports the new global treaty and will play an active leadership role in negotiations. This is an important pillar of the new government's international environmental agenda.

At the recent UN Oceans Conference in Lisbon, Minister of the Environment and Water, Minister Plibersek, announced Australia's intent to sign up to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and the UN Environment Programme New Plastics Economy Global Commitment. This commitment unites businesses, governments, and other organisations from around the world behind a common vision of a circular economy for plastic, in which it never becomes waste or pollution.

Australia also plays a lead role in the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Informal Dialogue on Plastics Pollution and Sustainable Plastics Trade Initiative (the IDP), and has joined a number of international initiatives to combat marine plastic pollution, including the Commonwealth Clean Ocean Alliance, the UNEP Clean Seas Campaign, the G20 Marine Litter Action plan and G20 Implementation Framework for Actions on Marine Plastic Litter, and the High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy.

The Environment and Water Minister recently stated that she would like to see a plastic-free Pacific within our lifetime. Australia is investing in regional initiatives to address the Pacific waste management challenges, including within the Australia, New Zealand, and Pacific Island Countries Plastics Pact (ANZPAC) to work towards a regional circular economy for plastic packaging. We are also assisting our Pacific Island neighbours to reduce marine plastic litter through the $16 million Pacific Ocean Litter Project (2019-2026).

Action on forests

Action to protect and sustainably manage forests is a key part of taking climate action, addressing biodiversity loss, and achieving sustainable development. Australia is engaged in a range of international forest-related fora, led by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry and the Department of Climate Change, Energy, Environment and Water.

For example, at UNFCCC COP26 Australia joined the Glasgow Leaders' Declaration on Forests and Land Use, committing to working collectively to halt and reverse forest loss and land degradation by 2030 while delivering sustainable development and promoting an inclusive rural transformation. Australia is actively engaged in the United Nations Forum on Forests, working collaboratively with other countries on the management, conservation and sustainable development of forests. Australia has been a core partner of the Global Forest Observations Initiative, supporting developing countries to calculate changes to their forests and the contribution of greenhouse gas emissions from forest destruction and degradation. Coastal forests, such as mangroves, are also an important focus area and Australia is investing in practical action to protect and restore these coastal blue carbon ecosystems.

Action on oceans and their ecosystems

Australia recognises the important link between the climate and the ocean, and the need to build the health and resilience of the ocean in the face of climate change. Strong international partnerships to protect and conserve ocean ecosystems are crucial to effective global action on climate change.

As a member of the High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy (Ocean Panel), Australia is working with 16 other world leaders to advocate for strong, practical solutions to help the world transition to a sustainable ocean economy where jobs are secured, ocean health is protected and prosperity is shared equitably. Through the Ocean Panel, Australia has committed to sustainably manage 100 per cent of the ocean area within our national jurisdiction, guided by sustainable ocean plans, by 2025.

In early 2022, Australia established two new marine-protected areas – the Christmas Island Marine Park and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands Marine Park in the Indian Ocean Territories. This increased Australia's marine park coverage from 37 to 45 per cent of our waters, reinforcing Australia's commitment and global leadership in ocean protection. As a member of the High Ambition Coalition for Nature and People and the Global Ocean Alliance, Australia is advocating for a global target to protect at least 30 per cent of the global ocean by 2030 (30 by 30) – including through the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework. Australia is on track to make a substantial contribution to this global target, with 45 per cent of Australia's marine areas and around 22 per cent of land already protected.

Australia is investing in practical action to restore and account for coastal blue carbon ecosystems domestically and overseas, including supporting blue carbon conservation in the region. Australia launched the International Partnership for Blue Carbon at the 2015 Paris Climate Conference and it has now grown to over 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. Australia has launched the Blue Carbon Accelerator Fund to support the development of blue carbon restoration and conservation projects in countries outside Australia and to help pave the way for private sector finance. We are partnering with regional neighbours on coastal blue carbon protection and restoration, including funding programs in Indonesia ($2 million), the Indian Ocean Rim Association ($750,000), and supporting the Pacific Blue Carbon Program ($6.3 million).

Australia is a founding member of the International Coral Reef Initiative and is supporting the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network. The Network works through a global network of researchers to monitor the health of coral reef ecosystems, for their conservation and management. Australia is continuing to support the implementation and expansion of the ReefCloudopen-access platform in the Pacific and beyond, which uses innovative technology and Artificial Intelligence to support coral reef management. The project demonstrates Australia's world-leading expertise in coral reef science and the value of working through international multi-stakeholder partnerships to create strong evidence-based management tools for the sustainable management of coral reefs in the Pacific and globally.

The iconic Great Barrier Reef is the Sea Country home for First Nations peoples — more than 70 Traditional Owner groups — whose connections to the marine environment date back more than 60,000 years. The Australian Government is committed to reconciliation and working in genuine partnership with First Nations peoples for better social and environmental outcomes for the Reef. We are expanding our sea country programs, our Indigenous Protected Areas network, and will double our Indigenous Rangers program by the end of this decade.

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)

The Global Environment Facility (GEF) is the world's largest funder of biodiversity protection, nature restoration, pollution reduction, and climate change response in developing countries. It finances international environmental conventions and country-driven initiatives that generate global benefits. The GEF partnership connects 184 member governments with civil society, Indigenous Peoples, and the private sector, and works closely with other environmental financiers for efficiency and impact. Over the past three decades, the GEF has provided more than $22 billion in grants and blended finance and mobilized another $120 billion in co-financing for more than 5,000 national and regional projects, plus 27,000 community-led initiatives through its Small Grants Programme. The GEF supports the following international environment agreements:

Australia is a contributor to the GEF and is a member of the GEF Council. Australia recently committed $80 million to the eighth GEF replenishment (2022-2026). Australia has supported the GEF since its inception 30 years ago.

International Partnerships for Hydrogen and Fuel Cells in the Economy

The International Partnership for Hydrogen and Fuel Cells in the Economy (IPHE), formed in 2003, is an international governmental partnership currently consisting of 21 member countries and the European Commission. Australia is an active member of IPHE, including leading work with other members on methods to determine the carbon emissions from hydrogen production to support a future trade in clean hydrogen and its derivatives like ammonia. This informs the Australian Government's work to design and develop an internationally consistent Guarantee of Origin scheme for Australia.

Mission Innovation

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 Renewable Energy Agency

Since its creation in 2011, Australia has been a member of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) which supports countries transition to a cleaner and more sustainable energy future. IRENA promotes the widespread adoption and sustainable use of all forms of renewable energy, including bioenergy, geothermal, hydropower, ocean, solar and wind energy in the pursuit of sustainable development, energy access, energy security and low-carbon economic growth and prosperity. Australia's engagement with IRENA helps us stay abreast of renewable energy policy developments and practical tools to accelerate renewable energy deployment. It connects us with a key forum for knowledge sharing and technology transfer in relation to clean, sustainable energy, and with other countries pursuing similar energy decarbonisation agendas to Australia. The Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water leads Australia's engagement with IRENA.

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.

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