Following the Rio Earth Summit of 1992, nations from around the world agreed to the principles and mechanisms for action set out in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Under the UNFCCC, the 1997 Kyoto Protocol committed developed nations, including Australia to specific targets to reduce carbon emissions. In 2010, Australia pledged a 2020 target under the UNFCCC Cancun Agreement. In 2016, Australia signed up to the Paris Agreement. The Paris agreement focussed on achieving a new more urgent goal, and accounted for what had happened previously.
Each set of commitments was relevant to the situation at a particular point in time, so it is not possible to draw a straight line from one commitment to the next. The complexity of tracking historic commitments (which are not published in a consistent way, and have been subject to retrospective revision) makes it difficult to delineate a single baseline against which to measure.
This explainer sets out the different commitments and, as much as it is possible to do, takes an independent look at how Australia is tracking against each of them.