This year, Australia experienced horrific bushfires, described as the most “evident and deeply traumatic experience of the huge impacts of climate change” by Christiana Figueres, the former Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Also this year, the Paris Agreement, which Ms Figueres helped to deliver, invites governments to set and communicate their long-term 2050 goals, and shorter-term targets up to 2030 to decarbonise their economies. 

Since the first edition of our publication in January 2017, all states and territories have been steadily progressing their own policies and taking significant actions to reduce emissions, support renewable energy development, and increase energy efficiency. In the absence of a long-term target adopted by the Federal Government, on 9 July 2020, Australia achieved a de facto national target of net-zero emissions by 2050 when the Northern Territory Government released its Climate Change Response. 

The Federal Government’s current target under the Paris Agreement is to reduce emissions by 26-28 per cent on 2005 levels by 2030. This builds on Australia’s target set under previous international conventions to reduce emissions to 5 per cent below 2000 levels by 2020. Based on the Federal Government’s 2019 emissions projection report, and with the existing policies in place at a Federal level, Australia is not expected to be able to meet the 2030 target without the use of Kyoto units carried over from previous commitment periods under the Kyoto Protocol (the predecessor to the Paris Agreement).

This second edition of our climate policy update provides the readers with:

  • An insight into the current status of policy and legislative regimes across the states and territories with respect to emissions reduction, renewable energy and energy efficiency; and
  • An indication of the investment settings operating, or likely to develop, during this critical decade to 2030.
Cover page - Australia's climate policy 2020 

This edition was authored by Elisa de Wit, Jacqueline Plant, Luke Havemann, Sonali Seneviratne, Laura Waterford, Krista MacPherson, Nancy Zheng, Sasha Aronson, Huw Calford, Nancy Zheng, James Nunez, Madeleine Begg-Cotter, John Tullio and Nabil Abrahams.


Special Counsel
Partner | Environment & Planning Team Leader

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