When the future looks dark, it’s a good idea to look backwards to see how far we've come — then dream forward to envision the future we are creating. 

In that spirit, we wanted to reflect on some big climate moments that have happened over the past six months.

Collated by the team at the Climate Action Network Australia, these wins are testament to the power of people speaking out for climate action all across Australia and around the world. 

Enjoy, and remember the future is not a linear progression of the past. Just as climate damage will accelerate with locked-in warming, so will climate solutions and action.

The future is still up for grabs and will be determined by those who take action today.


Houghton solar farm, QLD. Photo: Danny Halstead/Pacific Hydro.

Some of the biggest and most positive shifts have happened internationally.

  • China, Japan, Germany, the United Kingdom, the European Union, Korea and the United States have stepped up their climate ambition — to unseen levels. This run of announcements was a real shot in the arm for climate hope.
  • Joe Biden was no sooner sworn in than he was declaring climate a major priority. And his Climate Envoy, John Kerry, was publicly calling out Australia’s lack of ambition, adding pressure for our government to step up.
  • Prime Minister Scott Morrison was refused a seat at the Climate Ambition Summit by the UK because of Australia's inaction — a setback for him as he had already announced he would be speaking.
  • We’ve seen fairly relentless pressure from international allies on Australia to take more action, including the spectre of carbon border tax adjustments.
  • So far the Prime Minister has not shifted, but pressure is clearly building on him to step up. This will only increase with more opportunities for pressure coming up this year.

As coal power in Australia hit a record low, renewables are taking off

  • In early June the Queensland government announced new renewable energy, storage and hydrogen projects and funds.
  • Also in June, New South Wales gave a financial boost to its renewable energy zones.
  • Western Australia is soon going to be 40% solar.
  • And our big retailers are coming on board with 100% renewables — ALDI, Bunnings, Woolworths, Coles.


Yallourn power station, VIC. Photo: Doug Gimesy.

Coal-fired power is on the decline in Australia 

  • ANZ decided to move away from funding thermal coal and stopped lending to Australia’s biggest coal port, the Port of Newcastle.
  • Australia’s newest coal power plant in Western Australia was written off as worthless by its owners.
  • The expansion of two coal mines — New Acland in Queensland and Dendrobium in New South Wales — were smacked down. And Clive Palmer’s plan to build a coal mine cheek and jowl with the Great Barrier Reef was shut down by the Queensland government (the first time a coal mine in Queensland has ever been rejected to protect nature).
  • It was announced that Yallourn power station will shut down early — though not as early as we’d like.
  • Two of Australia's biggest polluters, AGL and Origin, had $900million shaved off their combined market value.

The courts are making great decisions

  • Eight teenagers and a nun proved in court that the Environment Minister has a duty of care to not harm them by taking decisions that exacerbate climate change
  • Greenpeace successfully argued its right to criticise Australia’s biggest climate polluter, AGL.
  • ACF won our court case against Adani.


School strike for climate, Melbourne. Photo: Ryan Chenoweth/James Thomas Photo. 

The people are speaking

Poll after poll shows that people want more climate action. Here is the latest in the Australia Talks survey:

  • 74% say the federal government is not doing enough to address climate change (including 55% of coalition voters).
  • 81% want Australia to do more with more renewables being the most supported change.
  • 77% think our lifestyles will need to change to address climate change and only 25% think technology alone will drive the change
  • But 46% agree that jobs should be maintained while we address climate change and 38% disagree. This shows we have more to do to showcase the jobs rich future that comes with renewables and clean exports and that climate change is a job killer. 


Kelly O’Shanassy

CEO of the Australian Conservation Foundation.