1301.0 - Year Book Australia, 2008  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 07/02/2008   
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Contents >> International Relations >> Australia's environment interests


Australia attaches high priority to the protection, conservation and ecologically sustainable use of the environment. In international environment negotiations Australia pursues outcomes that advance its environmental and trade interests in a mutually reinforcing way.

Climate change

During 2007 Australia continued to play a leading role in addressing climate change in a range of international and regional forums. In May 2007, the Government called for new negotiations for a truly global agreement including all major emitters to be launched at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change meeting in Bali in December 2007. The Government also made clean development and climate change a key focus of the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting in September 2007.

Australia continued to drive effective action to address clean development and climate through the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate. In March 2007, recognising the significance of forests as a sink for greenhouse gas emissions and deforestation as a source of emissions, the Government launched the Global Initiative on Forests and Climate to support practical action to reduce deforestation, support reforestation and to implement sustainable forest management.

Australia continues to pursue action on climate change through bilateral partnerships. In addition to the ongoing partnerships, in January 2007 the Australia China Joint Co-ordination Group on Clean Coal Technology was established to promote bilateral cooperation on the development and deployment of clean coal technologies.


Australia is a driving force behind global whale conservation and is an active member of the International Whaling Commission (IWC). Australia was one of the first countries to join the IWC. Australia supports whale sanctuaries and non-lethal research on whale populations to protect them as they recover from centuries of hunting. With New Zealand, Australia has argued in the IWC for the creation of a South Pacific Whale Sanctuary. At the IWC meeting in May 2007 Australia helped ensure continued protection of whales by upholding the moratorium on commercial whaling.

Marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction

Australia is a recognised world leader in marine conservation and management, and is concerned about the impact of a range of fishing activities on vulnerable high seas ecosystems. In 2006, Australia successfully led major efforts in the UN General Assembly to achieve international agreement on the regulation of bottom fisheries so as to prevent significant adverse impacts on vulnerable marine ecosystems, including seamounts, hydrothermal vents and cold water corals, in areas beyond national jurisdiction. Australia, in cooperation with other countries, has commenced work to implement the agreed measures and is actively engaged in further international work to enhance the protection of the world’s marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction.

Tsunami warning mechanisms

The Indian Ocean tsunami of 26 December 2004 had a devastating impact on a number of Australia’s neighbouring countries. Following the tsunami, Australia has played a leading role in establishing an Indian Ocean tsunami warning system and is continuing to develop a comprehensive national warning system. As part of the Indian Ocean system, Australia’s increased monitoring capacity off the west and north coast will provide vital regional coverage and early warning. Australia is also assisting to strengthen the Pacific Tsunami Warning System (see the article Tsunami risk to Australia in the Water, land and air chapter).

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