Shaping a global solution
Climate change is a global problem that requires a global solution. All countries will experience climate change impacts, and have an interest in preventing rising temperatures and taking action to better cope with any impacts.
Australia is the world's 15th largest emitter of greenhouse gases, producing more greenhouse gas emissions than at least 170 other countries. Australia also produces more emissions per person than other developed countries.
Australia generates 1.5 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions so our actions alone cannot avert the worst consequences of climate change.
Helping to shape a global climate change solution is one of the Australian Government's highest priorities. It is one of the three pillars of Australia's comprehensive response to climate change along with efforts to reduce domestic emissions and adapt to climate change impacts.
International climate change negotiations
The main global forum on climate change is the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) negotiations.
Australia is working constructively in the UNFCCC towards a legally-binding global climate outcome that is effective, fair and efficient. Australia also takes an active role in the negotiations to advance and protect our national interests.
Australia is the chair of the Umbrella Group, a loose coalition of non-EU developed countries. Australia is also an active participant in the Cartagena Dialogue, a forum of developed and developing countries working to advance a progressive agenda on climate change issues. Both the Umbrella Group and the Cartagena Dialogue are helping drive international climate change action.
International pledges to reduce emissions
The UNFCCC has created a framework under which further arrangements for international climate change co-operation can be agreed.
The Kyoto Protocol, adopted in 1997, was the first international agreement setting out binding emissions reduction targets. The Protocol requires developed country Parties to limit or reduce their emissions over the period 2008-2012 (the 'first commitment period').
Countries agreed in 2011 that there would be a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol from 1 January 2013 with details to be finalised in 2012. Australia intends to join a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol.
Alongside the Kyoto Protocol, 90 countries–responsible for more than 80 per cent of global emissions and 90 per cent of the global economy–have made international pledges to reduce or limit carbon pollution by 2020. These countries include China, the United States, members of the European Union, India and Brazil.
The Australian Government has made an international pledge to reduce Australia's emissions by 5 to 15 per cent or 25 per cent below 2000 levels by 2020. The 5 per cent target represents Australia's unconditional commitment. Our targets of up to 15 per cent and 25 per cent are conditional on the extent of action by others.
Australia's 2020 targets are a constructive and responsible contribution to global action, and demonstrate Australia's commitment to playing its full and fair part in global action to reduce emissions.
Bilateral and regional action on climate change
Australia uses opportunities for targeted, high-level engagement with key countries to complement and advance the UNFCCC negotiations. This includes participation in the US-led Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate (MEF), the Group of Twenty (G20), the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and other regional forums.
Australia is a member of the Climate and Clean Air Coalition to Reduce Short-Lived Climate Pollutants (CCAC) – a voluntary partnership of more than 25 countries and 20 international organisations working on global efforts to reduce short-lived climate pollutants. These pollutants include black carbon (soot), methane and some hydroflurocarbons. They warm the atmosphere, contribute to climate change, and can damage human health, air quality, and the environment. The work of the CCAC complements global action to reduce carbon emissions led by the UNFCCC.
On 25 January 2013 Australia and eight other countries signed a Ministerial Statement promoting efforts to reduce short-lived climate pollutants in the oil and gas sector. The Ministerial Statement can be found on the CCAC website.
Australia also leverages key bilateral and regional relationships to support and promote climate change action. For further information on Australia's bilateral partnerships, see the Bilateral Climate Change Partnership Program.
Australia is taking action through the International Forest Carbon Initiative to help reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries. Through this initiative, Australia is working closely with countries to find practical ways to reduce emissions from the forest sector. This includes collaborative Forest Carbon Partnerships with Indonesia and Papua New Guinea to build each country's capacity to reduce emissions from the forest sector.
Australia is working with our Pacific island neighbours to prevent climate change undermining sustainable development gains. Australia is also helping vulnerable countries in our region adapt to the impacts of climate change through the International Climate Change Adaptation Initiative. Under this initiative, the department is assisting our Pacific island neighbours to enhance understanding of climate change and develop adaptation responses.
Australia regularly makes submissions to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) on issues that are important to international climate change negotiations.