Go to top of page

Chief Executive Officer's Review

I am pleased to present the Climate Change Authority’s annual report for 2021-22.

The past year has seen a marked and welcome increase in Australia’s ambition to combat climate change. The increases in temperature and extreme weather events that have been experienced globally have also impacted Australians. Australian Governments, industry, academia and civil society have lifted their desire for action and the Authority been called upon to deliver more advice and guidance.

In February 2022, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), in its Sixth Assessment Report, noted the urgent need for stronger climate action and that projected global warming under current global climate policies would leave many of the Australasian region's human and natural systems at risk from climate change impacts, making adaptation challenging.

The Australian Government attended COP26 in Glasgow with a commitment to reduce emissions to zero by 2050. Upon its election, the Albanese Government submitted a commitment to achieving 43% below 2005 greenhouse gas emissions levels by 2030 and net zero by 2050 as Australia’s Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC). As the financial year ended legislation to that end was being prepared for Parliament.

We actively supported Australia in its participation at COP26 by hosting two panel discussions from the Australian pavilion, which ran as live webinars.

‘How to prosper in a net zero world’ featured Guy Debelle, Deputy Governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia, Jennifer Westacott AO, Chief Executive Officer of the Business Council of Australia, and Stephen Fitzgerald AO, Chairman and Founding Partner of Affirmative Investment Management, discussing what it will take for Australia to prosper in a decarbonising world.

The second panel, ‘Establishing a regional carbon bubble in the Indo-Pacific’, saw the Authority host high level representatives from the Governments of Japan, the Republic of Korea, Papua New Guinea, and from Australia David Parker AM, Chair of the Australian Clean Energy Regulator, Meg O’Neill, the Chief Executive Officer of Woodside, and James Larsen, then Australia’s Climate Coordinator. The discussion focused on how the climate and both host and funding countries could benefit from a regional carbon trading ‘bubble’.

The Authority was pleased to join counterparts around the world in forming the International Climate Councils Network, launched at COP26. Participants in the ICCN provide their respective governments with evidence-based, expert advice and assessments to guide the delivery of effective action to reduce emissions and adapt to the impacts of climate change. The Authority has also partnered with the Bureau of Meteorology to strengthen engagement and enhance coordination between the two agencies. The Bureau of Meteorology partners with Geoscience Australia, CSIRO and Australian Bureau of Statistics to bring together world leading science, information and expertise on climate and natural hazards.

In October 2021, the Authority released a major report Paris Plus: from cost to competitive advantage. It outlined the challenges Australia faces in responding to climate change against the very significant opportunities available to utilise our nation’s natural and intellectual advantages. The report contributed to a change in the discourse from seeing climate change simply as a problem to seeking our technological and other opportunities to reduce emissions, while identifying the economic, as well as environmental, imperatives for doing so.

The second half of the financial year saw substantial work undertaken on the Authority’s Review on International Offsets, released in August. It found that the international carbon market is still evolving in response to the Paris Agreement and called for the publication of a National Carbon Market Strategy that makes the most of this opportunity for Australia to accelerate ambition on emissions reduction.

The launch of the Authority’s Reconciliation Action Plan in September 2021 was a recognition of the importance of creating a more sustainable and prosperous Australia and our contribution to national reconciliation and recognition.

As it finished its 10th year of operation, the Authority was preparing for the passage of the new Climate Change Act and the restoration of the Authority. The Act, now passed, includes an expanded role for the Authority, including providing advice for the Minister’s annual climate change statement to the Parliament and on Australia’s current and future NDCs. Work is well underway to ensure the Authority delivers on its new responsibilities.

In September 2022, we welcomed Professor Lesley Hughes, Dr Virginia Marshall, and Ms Sam Mostyn AO as new Members of the Authority. Their combined skills and experience will strengthen the capability of the Authority.

While a busy year, it was an extremely productive one that sets up the Authority for the future. I thank the Chair and Members of the Authority for their wise counsel and support and the secretariat staff for their energy and commitment.

Brad Archer
Chief Executive Officer