1301.0 - Year Book Australia, 2012  
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Int Relations


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.


Australia plays a leading role in promoting global action to address the adverse effects of climate change. In 2011–12, Australia advocated action on climate change in a range of international and regional forums, including the UN, G20 and the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Perth.

Australia actively participates in negotiations under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). At the Durban Climate Change Conference in 2011, Australia worked hard to achieve a mandate to negotiate a new international climate change agreement that will cover all major emitters. Parties agreed to complete negotiations by 2015, with the new agreement to take effect from 2020. Agreement was also reached to finalise institutional arrangements for delivering long-term finance to countries to assist them in reducing emissions and adapting to the effects of climate change.

Through the International Climate Change Adaptation Initiative, Australia's fast-start climate change funding contributes to adaptation projects in the Asia-Pacific, Africa and the Caribbean. Australia’s International Forest Carbon Initiative provides assistance to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in Indonesia and Papua New Guinea, and in other developing countries through multilateral initiatives.


Australia is working towards ambitious but practical outcomes at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) that will address the sustainable development agenda for the next twenty years. Australia’s priorities for the conference, to be held from 20 to 22 June 2012, include: better management of marine resources, enhancing food security, conserving biodiversity, establishing sustainable development goals and measuring progress towards sustainability. The former Minister for Foreign Affairs, is a member of the UN Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on Global Sustainability, which is formulating a new vision for sustainable growth and prosperity and identifying mechanisms to achieve it. The Panel released its report in January 2012; it provides an input for outcomes at Rio+20.


Australia is a global leader in whale conservation and is an active member of the International Whaling Commission (IWC). Australia advocates reforming the IWC into a modern, conservation-focused organisation and ending all forms of commercial whaling. These efforts have led to increased international support for Australia’s conservation initiatives, including the Southern Ocean Research Partnership which has thirteen member countries. Work to promote sustainable whale-watching industries, led by Australia, Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States, has also been entrenched as part of the IWC work program.

The government is resolutely opposed to all forms of commercial whaling, including Japan’s so-called ‘scientific whaling’, and strongly supports the global moratorium on commercial whaling. The government commenced action in the International Court of Justice against Japanese whaling in May 2010. Japan lodged its written submission in March 2012. Australia also joined with nine other countries in a US-led joint demarche to protest against Iceland’s commercial whaling in March 2011.

Australia is committed to mobilising international efforts to improve the management of marine resources, including strengthening regional integrated oceans management and eliminating marine capture fisheries subsidies that contribute to overfishing and over-capacity. Australia is promoting regional marine conservation through the Coral Triangle Initiative, a six-country Asia-Pacific conservation partnership for food security and economic development. Australia played a key role in supporting a resolution in the United Nations General Assembly on the Protection of Coral Reefs for Sustainable Livelihoods and Development.


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Statistics contained in the Year Book are the most recent available at the time of preparation. In many cases, the ABS website and the websites of other organisations provide access to more recent data. Each Year Book table or graph and the bibliography at the end of each chapter provides hyperlinks to the most up to date data release where available.