Country Background Information – Australia


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  • 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 in area or about 70 million football fields. 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 half of the corals in the Great Barrier Reef to bleach.

  • 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, especially because of the impacts of climate change. Increased drought and loss of habitat has caused koalas to descend from trees in search for food and water.

  • 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 24 million people live in Australia, where 88% 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 is the world’s fourth largest coal terminal, exporting about 70 million tonnes of coal per year. Coal also accounts for 63% of Australia’s energy use.

  • 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 8.2 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, around 50 000 bushfires occur causing damage to properties and even loss of life. According to recent reports, bushfire frequency has increased in the last five years.

  • 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 Action Tracker country profile
  • Climate change will hit Australia harder than rest of world, study shows from the Guardian.
  • Australia’s position on climate change before the 2015 Paris COP.
  • 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 2013
  • Clips from COP21: Australian Aborigines
  • General Information

  • Background Information from the UN
  • A good overview from the World Bank.
  • World Bank Africa Climate Business Plan
  • World Bank Climate Change Action Plan 2016-2020
  • CCAFS big facts
  • 2050 calculator tool for the UK
  • A history of climate change negotiations and another one.
  • A guide to COP21 in Paris from the Guardian.