Timeline of Australian climate change policy

Climate change Australia

This paper presents a record of Australian climate change policies, including key international developments to provide global context.


Climate change is a long-term, global problem. Long-term problems generally require stable but flexible policy implementation over time. However, Australia’s commitment to climate action over the past three decades could be seen as inconsistent and lacking in direction. At times Australia has been an early adopter, establishing the world’s first government agency dedicated to reducing greenhouse gas emissions; signing on to global climate treaties the same day they are created; establishing the world’s first emissions trading scheme (ETS) (albeit at a state level); and pioneering an innovative land-based carbon offset scheme. But at other times, and for many reasons, Australia has erratically altered course: disbanding the climate change government agency, creating a new one then disbanding that; refusing to ratify global treaties until the dying minute; and introducing legislation to repeal the national ETS.

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