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    12 Times The Government Screwed Up On Climate Change In Just 12 Months

    "Robbing Peter to pay Paul."

    Australia's 12-month track record on climate change has just been released, and environmental groups are calling it a big fat fail.

    Oculi, Dean Sewell / PR IMAGE

    Environmental group has compiled a list of the top 12 ways Australian governments have failed on climate change in the past year.

    "While the majority of people want to see strong action on climate change, the Turnbull government has consistently undermined Australia’s climate credentials," CEO Blair Palese told BuzzFeed News.


    Here they are...

    1. Not committing new money to climate change.

    Lukas Coch / AAPIMAGE

    In December 2015 at the Paris Climate Conference, Malcolm Turnbull announced $1 billion to help vulnerable nations cope with climate change.

    But it turns out this is not new money; it's redirected money from the foreign aid budget.

    In comparison, Canada promised to spend more than $2.5 billion and Japan pledged more than $10 billion of public and private money.

    Labor leader Bill Shorten described the prime minister's move as "robbing Peter to pay Paul".

    2. Funnelling millions into fossil fuel.

    Lukas Coch / AAPIMAGE

    In February, then industry minister Christopher Pyne announced the government would invest $15.4 million over four years in a new major national fossil fuel research centre: the Oil, Gas & Energy Resources Growth centre.

    Chaired by key players in the fossil fuel industry, its aim is to "direct research to industry needs".

    “Importantly it will also promote industry-led research in priority areas by facilitating deeper engagement between industry and researchers," Pyne said.

    This was at the same time as the government continued to cast doubts on the future of the renewable energy bodies ARENA and the CEFC.

    3. Introducing jail terms for protesters.


    In 2014, NSW premier Mike Baird told a mining industry dinner that his government would “crack down” on civil disobedience and “throw the book” at people who “unlawfully enter mining sites”.

    He made good on this promise in March when the NSW government introduced into parliament harsh anti-protest laws that could see protesters at fossil fuel project sites jailed for up to seven years.

    4. Approving billion-dollar mining leases.

    AAP / Via

    In April the Queensland government approved mining leases for the $21 billion Adani Carmichael mine.

    This will be one of the largest coal mines in the world and, according to, is incompatible with keeping global warming below 2 degrees.

    5. Asking the mining industry to give a job to a mate.

    Break Free Newcastle / PR IMAGE

    Tony Abbott marked the retirement of former resources minister Ian MacFarlane in May by calling on the industry to “demonstrate their gratitude” to him by giving him a job.

    The industry did just that. Three months after announcing his retirement from parliament, MacFarlane was picked up by the Queensland Resources Council as its new CEO.

    The job reportedly comes with a $500k pay packet.

    6. Censoring a report about the coral bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef.

    Blea / Getty

    On the back of record bleaching to the Great Barrier Reef, the Turnbull government censored a UN report on the risk of climate change to World Heritage sites.

    The June report, Destinations at Risk: World Heritage and Tourism in a Changing Climate, outlined how many World Heritage sites around the world were being compromised by the impacts of climate change.

    Despite the record bleaching, there was no mention in the report of the Great Barrier Reef being at risk from climate change.

    In October the health of the reef got a "D" on the Australian government’s annual report card for the fifth year in a row.

    7. Holding a double dissolution election.

    Mick Tsikas / AAPIMAGE

    Malcolm Turnbull’s double dissolution election resulted in the election of One Nation's Malcolm Roberts to the Senate with 77 first preference votes.

    According to, the validity of climate science became a hot topic in parliament when Roberts gave his first speech, in which he said “there’s not one piece of empirical evidence anywhere, anywhere, showing that humans cause, through CO2 production, climate change”.

    Roberts also accused the CSIRO and Bureau of Meteorology of being corrupt accomplices in a climate conspiracy driven by the United Nations.

    8. Increasing onshore gas developments.


    At the August Council of Australian Governments meeting of state energy ministers, Josh Frydenberg put the pressure on states to ramp up onshore gas developments.

    This is despite new research showing that methane – released during gas production – is 86 times more powerful than CO2 at causing climate change.

    9. Blaming renewable energy for South Australia's freak storm blackout.

    Facebook / Via Facebook: aaron.lee.baxter

    The federal government used a freak storm in South Australia that downed critical power infrastructure and plunged the state into darkness to blast the renewable energy.

    Malcolm Turnbull called the SA renewable energy target “completely unrealistic” and Barnaby Joyce tried to argue that the state’s lack of coal-fired baseload power had contributed to the blackout.

    A report later found the blackout had nothing to do with the state's use of renewable energy, but instead was blamed on an interconnector that overloaded.

    10. Cutting ARENA's budget (again).

    Mike Bowers / AAPIMAGE

    The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) had its budget slashed by $500 million in September, a move that was supported by the ALP. says this is a fail by the Turnbull government because the cuts come at a time when Australia needs to be investing more money into research and development of renewable energy.

    Experts fear that this decision will leave Australia with fewer research and development opportunities and lead to an exodus of industry talent.

    11. Fast-tracking the Adani coal mine.

    Sam Mooy / AAPIMAGE

    In October, the Queensland Labor government fast-tracked Adani’s Carmichael coal project, declaring it “critical infrastructure”.

    At the same time, the federal government launched a blistering attack on environmental groups using legal challenges to stop projects like the Adani coal mine, and backbenchers called for an inquiry into foreign donation to environmental groups.

    The prime minister has also flagged looking at changes to the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Act, to make it harder for environmental groups to challenge potentially dangerous projects.

    12. Not ratifying the Paris climate change agreement.

    Lukas Coch / AAPIMAGE

    At midnight on Thursday, the Paris climate change agreement came into effect, but the Australian parliament hasn't ratified it.

    Of the 195 countries that met in Paris last December, 85 have ratified the deal – including the United States and China, which formally lodged their ratification documents at a joint announcement in September.

    Australia has signed the Paris agreement, but isn't legally bound by it until it's passed by parliament.

    “The 2030 target Australia set itself in August 2015 is not consistent with the Paris objectives. Nor is our emission reduction policy framework," said John Connor, CEO of the Climate Institute.

    “At a minimum, Australia needs to ratify the Paris agreement, release its 2030 emission projections and incorporate achieving net zero emissions into domestic policy processes, like COAG energy reviews and the upcoming 2017 climate policy review.”

    Alice Workman is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Canberra.

    Contact Alice Workman at

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