ECPR

Install the app

Install this application on your home screen for quick and easy access when you’re on the go.

Just tap Share then “Add to Home Screen”

ECPR

Install the app

Install this application on your home screen for quick and easy access when you’re on the go.

Just tap Share then “Add to Home Screen”

Back to Paper Details

Australia’s National Politics of Climate Change

Mikael Granberg
Karlstad University
Leigh Glover
University of Melbourne
Mikael Granberg
Karlstad University
Open Panel

Abstract

This paper reviews contemporary national politics of climate change in Australia (concentrating on the period 1996—2011). Climate change politics have been particularly controversial in recent years, featuring in the elections of 2007 and 2010 and being a factor in the leaderships of both the federal government and the Opposition. Contrary to expressed political differences, there are shared ideological outlooks. We propose and review the notion that ideologically, Australia’s energy, energy security, and climate change policies are all in political accord, sharing a foundation in neo-liberal policies. Our analysis of these political developments recognizes several elements of political economy. These include the place of energy resources in Australia’s economy, both because of the scale of resource exports (Australia exports one-third of global black coal) and its domestic reliance on fossil fuels. Australia is a global top-20 national source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and has amongst the highest per-capita GHG emissions. With extensive areas of high ecological value and agricultural production, a long coastline, severely constrained water resources, and other factors, the prospect of high costs of climate change impacts are of considerable concern. These factors have influenced Australia’s domestic climate change politics and also its policies and negotiations in the international arena, most notably in relation to the Kyoto Protocol. Following an introduction, we provide an account of Australia’s energy resources and policies, energy consumption, and GHG emissions. In subsequent sections, we describe national climate change policy and Australia’s response to the international climate change negotiations (with a focus on the emissions trading issue). We address the contrast between differences and tensions expressed in national politics and public debates and the apparent contradiction with a shared ideological outlook between the major political interests. A discussion and conclusions close the paper.