Australia

   

Environmental Policies

#31
Key Findings
Emissions concerns and unaddressed infrastructural needs have left Australia scoring relatively poorly (rank 31) with respect to environmental policy. Its score on this measure has declined by 0.1 points relative to 2014.

CO2 emissions are rising, while a goal of reducing carbon emissions by 2030 is not associated with a credible plan for doing so. A recently completed review of the power-generation market offers the prospect of improving renewable-energy production, but delayed action has kept energy prices high, and progress with regard to emissions reductions has been very limited.

Public-transport gaps call for infrastructure investments as a key element in future environmental policies; however, the rate of actual investment in new infrastructure has been worryingly low, contributing to carbon-emissions concerns. Water security and water management policies have improved in recent years.

Accelerating biodiversity decline is a serious concern. The issues of carbon-emission reductions and participation in international environmental regimes have divided the political left and right.

Environment

#32

How effectively does environmental policy protect and preserve the sustainability of natural resources and quality of the environment?

10
 9

Environmental policy effectively protects, preserves and enhances the sustainability of natural resources and quality of the environment.
 8
 7
 6


Environmental policy largely protects and preserves the sustainability of natural resources and quality of the environment.
 5
 4
 3


Environmental policy insufficiently protects and preserves the sustainability of natural resources and quality of the environment.
 2
 1

Environmental policy has largely failed to protect and preserve the sustainability of natural resources and quality of the environment.
Environmental Policy
5
Australia’s economy is based to a considerable extent on the exploitation of natural resources and on a resource-intense mode of agricultural production and exportation. Therefore, the trade-off between environmental concerns and economic growth is a topic of great public debate.

Environmental policy in Australia has focused very much in recent years on climate change and water security. Some progress has been made on water security in recent years, including the construction of desalination plants and the creation of the Murray-Darling Basin water management plan. However, energy consumption is generally high and, despite great potential for solar and wind energy, the contribution of renewable energy to the grid remains relatively low.

Australia’s infrastructure continues to be stretched thin, a fact contributing to rising carbon emissions. Public transport in Australian cities is less developed than in comparable European or Asian cities. Investment in infrastructure has been deficient, and must become a key component in Australia’s environmental policy over coming decades.

One of the early acts of Prime Minister Abbott’s Liberal-National coalition government was to abolish the carbon tax introduced by the previous Labor government in 2012, which ceased to apply from 1 July 2014. The government remains committed to reducing by 2030 carbon emissions by anywhere from 26% to 28% compared to 2005 levels, but currently have no effective means of achieving this.

A government-commissioned review of the national electricity market was published in June 2017. Most of its recommendations were accepted, but in the intervening period up to the end of the review period, there has been almost no progress on the policy front. Industry uncertainty therefore persists, undermining incentives to invest in energy generation, and contributing to record-high energy prices for consumers, low levels of reliability, and very limited progress on emissions reductions.

Biodiversity decline is also a significant concern in Australia, with considerable evidence of an acceleration in decline over recent decades. In response to this concern, in October 2010 the Australian government released “Australia’s Biodiversity Conservation Strategy 2010 - 2030,” which provides the guiding framework for conserving Australia’s biodiversity over that period. Various policies to address the decline in biodiversity have been implemented, though more action is required.

Citations:
Australian Natural Resource Management Ministerial Council, ‘Australia’s Biodiversity Conservation Strategy 2010–2030,’ 2010: http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/publications/strategy-2010-30/pubs/biodiversity-strategy-2010.pdf

Murray-Darling Basin Authority: https://www.mdba.gov.au/

In Australien herrscht wegen der Volatilität der Strompreise und der sich häufenden Blackouts eine Energiekrise, Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 11. Mai 2017.

Tesla to build world’s biggest lithium ion battery in South Australia, The Guardian, 7. July 2017, www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2017/jul/07/tesla-to-build-worlds-biggest-lithium-ion-battery-in-south-australia

Electricity Market Review: https://www.environment.gov.au/system/files/resources/1d6b0464-6162-4223-ac08-3395a6b1c7fa/files/electricity-market-review-final-report.pdf

Global Environmental Protection

#29

To what extent does the government actively contribute to the design and advancement of global environmental protection regimes?

10
 9

The government actively contributes to international efforts to design and advance global environmental protection regimes. In most cases, it demonstrates commitment to existing regimes, fosters their advancement and initiates appropriate reforms.
 8
 7
 6


The government contributes to international efforts to strengthen global environmental protection regimes. It demonstrates commitment to existing regimes and occasionally fosters their advancement or initiates appropriate reforms.
 5
 4
 3


The government demonstrates commitment to existing regimes, but neither fosters their advancement nor initiates appropriate reforms.
 2
 1

The government does not contribute to international efforts to strengthen global environmental protection regimes.
Global Environmental Policy
6
Australia is not prioritizing the advancement of global environmental protection regimes. After winning the 2013 election, the coalition abolished the carbon tax introduced by the previous labor government. While this is a domestic issue, the coalition’s strong anti-carbon tax posture indicates the Liberal party and its coalition partner is much less enthusiastic than the previous Labor party government about participating in a global environmental protection regime.

Citations:
https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2018/sep/02/australia-will-honour-paris-climate-agreement-simon-birmingham-says
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