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Australia and climate change March 26, 2014. Overview Global climate change and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) regime Australia.

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Presentation on theme: "Australia and climate change March 26, 2014. Overview Global climate change and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) regime Australia."— Presentation transcript:

1 Australia and climate change March 26, 2014

2 Overview Global climate change and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) regime Australia and climate change: environmental and economic concerns Australian governments and UNFCCC

3 Why this case? Foreign policy from a middle power perspective Challenges around international agreements/cooperation Ethical considerations in FP Impact of domestic and external factors on FP Role of identity & ideology in FP –Being a “good international citizen”

4 Global climate change and the UNFCCC regime We know there is a problem: 97% of climate scientists indicated that they believed that climate change is related to human activity (Anderegg et al 2010) But…. Challenge of predicting specific impacts Building & maintaining collective action against climate change has been difficult Inconsistent political will to act

5 Ethical dilemmas Historical vs contemporary emissions –West didn’t know impact of emissions Per capita vs volume of emissions –Australia & Canada vs India & China Differentiated vulnerabilities –Some much more vulnerable than others Luxury vs survival emissions –Rich vs poorer countries Future generations and other living being

6 The UNFCC 1991, an intergovernmental committee of state representatives was established to move towards an international agreement on climate change and emissions reductions. The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was agreed in Kyoto Protocol was successfully negotiated in 1997.

7 Australia & climate change Dilemmas how to go about climate change are associated with: Australia’s foreign policy tradition –The “good international citizen” Economic interests associated with fossil fuel export and use –World’s largest coal exporter Politics of domestic support and opposition Vulnerabilities to climate change

8 Australian governments & UNFCC Hawke government ( ) Keating government ( ) Howard government ( ) Rudd government ( ) Governments post-2010

9 Hawke Administration (Labour) In 1990, the Hawke government adopted an interim planning target for the reduction, by 2005, of greenhouse gas emissions by 20% from 1988 levels. The position of Australia was seen as a strong and committed international voice.

10 Keating Administration (Labour) Keating was seen by many as a backwards step on environmental issues: It called on industry to reduce emissions ‘wherever economically efficient’ 1995, it began to side with the USA in calling for differentiated emissions targets for developed states.

11 Howard Administration (Liberal) The Howard government denigrated the notion of ‘good international citizenship’ At the COP 2 in Geneva in 1996, government representatives challenged the notion of IPCC findings. At Kyoto, Howard, argues that it was ‘not in Australia’s interests’ to ratify the Kyoto protocol.

12 Rudd Administration (Labour) Prime Minister Rudd ratified the Kyoto Protocol as a first order of government business and announced a draft of domestic policy initiatives on climate change. However, failed to pass Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme legislation and his public support eroded in 2010.

13 Governments post-2010 Gillard (Labour) minority government passes a wide-reaching carbon tax in the face of significant public opposition but with support in the Senate. Abbott (Liberal/National Coalition) working to repeal carbon tax –Repeal voted down in March 2014

14 Conclusion See important influence of domestic and external factors in developing FP Governments often need to balance competing priorities in FP Image and reputation can have a strong influence on FP decisions Middle powers struggle to balance specific interest with broader interests in multilateralism


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