Today Climate Change Minister Chris Bowen delivered Australia’s second-ever Annual Climate Change statement. It’s an important moment for us to assess the Albanese Government’s climate record so far. 

In its first 18 months, the Albanese Government has set a modest new emissions reduction target, strengthened the Safeguard Mechanism to crack down on big polluters and started rolling out big renewable projects critical for phasing out coal and gas. Those are all good steps.

But the Albanese Government has also approved or supported sixteen new coal and gas export projects. New ACF analysis shows these projects would generate more than seven times the amount of climate pollution that the government’s policies will save. 

That’s a ratio of 7-to-1. We simply cannot afford to be that reckless.

While taking genuine steps to reduce carbon emissions at home, the government is making climate change worse by continuing to export coal and gas around the world. It doesn’t matter where it is burnt, Australian coal and gas is fuelling heatwaves, bushfires and coral bleaching in Australia. It is time for the government to draw a line in the sand and stop backing coal and gas mines that damage the climate we all share.

The Albanese Government was elected on a strong climate mandate. It’s time for Labor and Minister Bowen to actually drive down Australia’s climate pollution, which is fuelling extreme heat in our cities and droughts in our regions. 


Renewable energy and storage hub, Queensland. Photo: Geoff Hunter/Kidston, Genex Power

Next week, Minister Bowen flies to the COP28 UN Climate Conference where he’ll talk with other nations about a new 2035 climate target. The Albanese Government will set a new 2035 climate target for Australia in the next 12 months. 

For Australia to play our part in tackling the threat of runaway climate damage, we need to take strong action that aligns with what expert evidence and science tells us is necessary. 

Research conducted in 2021 by the Climate Targets Panel concluded that Australia should reach net zero by 2035 for a 50% chance of limiting warming to 1.5°C. 

The Climate Council’s Aim High, Go Fast report based on analysis of the global emissions budget by Professor Will Steffen also concludes that to do its fair share of the global emissions reduction task, Australia should aim to cut emissions by 75% below 2005 levels by 2030 and reach net zero emissions by 2035. 

A Net Zero by 2035 target would enable Australia to honour our commitment to help limit global warming to 1.5C – and protect communities and wildlife from worsening fires, floods, droughts and coral bleaching.

Ningaloo Reef. Photo: JacobLoyacano/

A Net Zero by 2035 target also raises our ambition to a level that will drive significant real-world action to slash climate pollution, such as:

  • Ending the approval of new coal, gas and oil exports
  • Halting and reversing nature destruction – our native forests provide critical habitat for wildlife and are carbon sinks that vacuum up greenhouse gases
  • Ramping up renewable energy to power our homes, transport and industry and replace coal and gas
  • Growing renewable exports, like green steel and renewable hydrogen to replace coal, gas and oil exports and create new career pathways for fossil fuel workers and young people. 

Today, Minister Bowen pointed to the challenge his government faces after a decade of reckless inaction under Coalition governments in his speech. But this Labor government must rise to the challenge, for nature and our communities.

At COP28, the world will be watching to see if Australia will sign the Glasgow Statement and rule out spending public money on international fossil fuel projects. 

We know we need to raise Australia’s climate ambition. Let’s keep demanding it until we get it!

Before the Minister heads overseas to COP28, let’s tell him that the people of Australia want a strong, new target to set the ambition needed to stop burning coal and gas, fast. 

Write/Send an email to Climate Change Minister Chris Bowen demanding he set Australia's target to reach net zero emissions by 2035 – 15 years earlier than our current plan. 

Australian Conservation Foundation