Country Background Information – Australia


If possible, download these two documents to your phone, so that you can refer to them later:

Key country facts


  • great barrier reef

    Off the north east coast of Australia is the Great Barrier Reef – the world’s largest coral reef system covering 344,400 km2. The Reef is home to more than 2000 species of corals and fish and other marine animals such as whales, dolphins, sharks, and rays. However, continuous increases in ocean temperatures have caused more than 60% of the corals in the Great Barrier Reef to bleach. 25% are severely bleached.

  • koala

    Like kangaroos, koalas are native to Australia. They live in forests and woodlands and feed off leaves of eucalypts. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has recently listed them as Vulnerable because of the impacts of climate change and loss of habitat. 10 000 koalas died in the 2019/ 2020 Australian bushfires.

  • bondi

    Because of its size, Australia has a variety of weather and seasons depending on the region. The popular Bondi Beach in New South Wales can be found in the temperate zone, where average summer temperature is between 16 and 26 °C. However, during heatwaves, temperature can reach as high as 48 °C.

  • gold

    One of the biggest industry in Australia is mining. It is also a large contributor to the country’s economy. Apart from gold, Australia also mines coal, uranium, iron ore, nickel, bauxite, lead, copper, zinc, mineral sands and diamonds.

  • aboriginal

    Known as the oldest civilization, Aborigines lived in Australia long before the arrival of European settlers in the 1700s. Aboriginal Australians have a very diverse culture – rich with arts, music, and dance.

    Source: Flickr / Dan Lundberg

  • aboriginal

    About 25 million people live in Australia, where 86% reside and work in urban areas. The country also has one of the highest living costs in the world. On average, living costs in Australia are 13% higher than in the UK.

  • Gladstone port

    Australia is one of the world’s largest coal exporters. Gladstone Port in Queensland exports about 70 million tonnes of coal per year. Coal accounts for 40% of Australia’s energy use and 72% of electricity generation.

  • Sydney Opera

    Built in 1973, the Opera House in Sydney is named as one of the most distinctive buildings of the 20th century. It attracts 10.9 million visitors every year.

  • bushfires

    Bushfires are common in Australia because of its generally hot and dry climate, topography and flammable vegetation like eucalypts. Every year, bushfires cause damage to properties and loss of life. Australia’s summer of 2019/20 released more carbon dioxide than Australia does in a year. Bushfires are becoming more common.

  • Royal Exhibition

    The Royal Exhibition building, surrounded by the iconic Carlton Gardens, is the first UNESCO World Heritage Listing in Australia. It was built in 1880 and remains as the only surviving Great Hall for exhibitions.

Further Materials (higher level learners) – Australia

  • Climate Transparency country profile
  • Australia on the Frontline from the Guardian.
  • Coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef.
  • Bushfires
  • Australia’s current climate change action.
  • Australia’s emission history and projections from Climate Action Tracker.
  • The Australian Government’s Climate Change in Australia site.
  • Australia’s self-assessment of its vulnerability to climate change, submitted to the UNFCC in 2017
  • Clips from COP21: Australian Aborigines
  • General Information

  • Background Information from the UN
  • A good overview from the World Bank.
  • CCAFS big facts
  • En-Roads 2100 climate simulator
  • A history of climate change negotiations and another one.
  • A guide to COP21 in Paris from the Guardian.