Climate policy in Australia will become a key area of
focus over the next 12 months following the Paris Agreement
commencement and domestic developments.
The Paris Agreement will enter into force on 4 November 2016
following the announcement on the 5 October 2016 that at least 55
Parties to the Convention that account for at least approximately
55% of the total global greenhouse gases had ratified, accepted or
approved the instrument.
Australia is yet to ratify the Agreement and will review its
domestic climate change policies in 2017.
Paris Agreement's condition for the entry into force
The Paris Agreement, agreed at the
COP21 on 12 December 2015, contained a condition that it would
enter into force on the 30th day after at least 55 Parties to the
Convention accounting for at least approximately 55% of the global
greenhouse emissions had ratified, accepted, approved or
accessioned the Agreement.
On 5 October, this threshold was reached and currently the Paris
Agreement has been ratified by 84 Parties. Some Parties who have
ratified, accepted or approved the Agreement include the USA, the
UK and Northern Ireland, the EU, New Zealand, Canada, China, India,
France and Germany. This shows a commitment to the Agreement by
some of the world's largest emitters in a remarkable speed.
In contrast, the 1997 Kyoto Agreement, which had an identical
condition, experienced immense opposition from the USA and
ultimately took eight years to come into effect. One possible the
reason behind the rapid entry into force of the Paris Agreement may
be that the Agreement itself does not have binding emission
reduction targets, but rather requires member countries to make
voluntary commitments through Nationally Determined
The road to Australia's ratification of the Paris
Australia has not yet ratified the Paris Agreement, although it
is expected to do so before the end of this year. Now that the USA,
China and India have ratified the Paris Agreement, Australia will
likely feel international pressure to ensure that its domestic
policies implement the Paris Agreement.
In July, the United Nations reviewed Australia's climate
change policies and expressed concerns that Australia's
emissions are continuing to increase. In response, Parties
including the US, China and New Zealand posed a number of questions
to Australia regarding its methods for calculating emissions and
its progress in achieving emission targets. Australia is expected
to answer these questions before COP22 in Marrakech in
On 31 August 2016, the Government tabled the Paris Agreement for
Parliamentary scrutiny. The Joint Standing Committee on Treaties
received public submissions on the Paris Agreement up until 7
October; it will produce a report which will be considered by the
Federal Government before ratification can take place.
The Government has also committed to a review of its domestic
climate change policies during 2017. Although the terms of
reference for the review are currently being prepared, it remains
to be seen if the review will consider whether the generous
baselines under the Safeguard Mechanism need to be reduced to
assist Australia achieve its 2030 emissions reduction targets of
26-28% below 2005 levels.
The review will likely need to examine how the Emissions
Reduction Fund (ERF) can transition from a
publicly funded abatement program, and the potential for
international credits to be used by emitters to meet any compliance
obligation. Organisations, such as the Carbon Market Institute and
the International Emissions Trading Association, have recently
encouraged the Government to make changes to tighten the baselines
under the Safeguard Mechanism, review the ERF process and consider
the implementation of international carbon markets as a means of
assisting Australia to meet its international commitments.
The entry into force of the Paris Agreement has been seen as a
historic moment, if only because of the rapidity with which it has
occurred. Australia may face international criticism if it does not
take action to ratify the Agreement quickly. Even after the
Agreement is ratified, Australia will have to ensure that it
implements domestic policies consistent with achieving its
committed target. The convergence of the coming into force of the
Paris Agreement and the 2017 review means that climate policy in
Australia will become a key area of focus over the next 12
Clayton Utz communications are intended to provide
commentary and general information. They should not be relied upon
as legal advice. Formal legal advice should be sought in particular
transactions or on matters of interest arising from this bulletin.
Persons listed may not be admitted in all states and
To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.
Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.
In September 2009 the NSW Government announced that by way of an amendment to the Trees (Disputes Between Neighbours) Act 2006 the Land and Environment Court would be given the power to resolve disputes between neighbours over high, dense hedges that severely affected views and sunlight.
The lapsing provisions within the SPA, both for development applications and approvals, are a necessary evil.
Some comments from our readers… “The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable” “I often find critical information not available elsewhere” “As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).