The Federal Government is lagging behind the rest of the country

Gavan McFadzean, Manager, Climate Change and Clean Energy Program, Australian Conservation Foundation

The Australian government is a global laggard on climate action and is also well behind Australia’s own states and territories. However, Australia has enormous potential to be a global climate leader -- to rapidly decarbonise our own economy with world-class renewable energy resources and to export our sunshine to the world. Gavan will outline this huge opportunity along with the targets and policies needed for the Federal Government to grab hold of Australia’s potential to move from laggard to leader.

The Australian government is behind much of the world on climate action. Australia is the third largest exporter of coal and gas globally; has a 2030 Paris target that is in line with over 3 degrees of global warming; and is falling short on climate finance. The federal government is also well behind Australia’s own states and territories, which are moving to transition to renewable energy, committing to stronger clean transport policies and were signed up to net zero targets well before the federal commitment.

There is clear appetite for stronger action – from states and territories; from Australia’s private sector desperate for policy certainty; and from the Australian community, but the federal government has put up barriers including through a lack of effective policy.

However, Australia has enormous potential to become a global climate leader and a clean energy ‘superpower’. Australia has some of the world’s best renewable resources that can be exported as hydrogen or ammonia, critical minerals needed for global clean energy technology development, lots of land and transferable knowledge and skills. Australia has the potential to export liquid sunshine, manufactured batteries and even clean energy skills, education and training to the world -- and deliver enormous climate, job and economic benefits.

Gavan will outline this enormous opportunity along with the targets and policies needed for the Federal Government to grab hold of this potential and move from laggard to leader.


Australia must set stronger climate commitments and policies including an updated NDC, which will need to increase to 75% by 2030 to align with 1.5 degrees. At minimum it must be increased to 50% immediately to align with similar economies as a first step.  Australia should be seeking to achieve net zero emission by 2035.

Stronger targets must be coupled with domestic policy to rapidly transition to renewable energy and reduce emissions across Australia’s economy – including our transport, industry, agriculture sectors.

Australia must transition our exports from dirty to clean, taking advantage of Australia’s clean export opportunity and massive sun and wind resources. This transition requires a range of supports for impacted communities including funding and transition assistance. It also requires policies to scale up Australia’s clean electricity supply, stimulate hydrogen supply and demand, and stimulate green metal products supply and demand.

Further links

Sunshot Report outlining Australia’s clean export opportunity