Blog | 18th May, 2022

Nine years of Coalition climate failure

Australians deserve a government who takes responsibility and protects us from climate risks.

The truth is, the Coalition’s track record on climate was one of denial, creative accounting and expensive advertising … but not action. Over almost a decade in power, the federal Coalition failed to cut Australia’s total emissions, and their policies were nowhere near what scientists said was required to avoid dangerous climate disasters that will impact every Australian.


Australia’s emissions have barely fallen since the Coalition was elected in 2014, and the Morrison government’s climate policies were ranked among the worst in the world.

Under the Coalition, Australia’s action on climate was ranked as dead last in the world by the UN.

If we exclude land use emissions (like every other country does) then our annual emissions have fallen just 2.9% since 2005, and if we exclude the fall in transport due to the lockdown, the drop is just 0.5%. In effect, Coalition policies have achieved almost nothing. While gains have been made as wind and solar replace coal in the electricity sector, this has been neutralised by growing emissions in other areas, especially in fossil gas mining and export – which the Coalition supported with generous public subsidies.

If their track record is poor, so are the Coalition’s targets. They still have Tony Abbott’s woefully weak climate target of 26-28% by 2030. It’s how much we cut pollution THIS decade that really matters, not in 2050, and the Coalition’s weak 2030 target is consistent with a catastrophic 3 degrees of warming.

Other country by country rankings placing Australia last, or close to last, include The Climate Change performance index (59th out of 64 countries) and The Climate Action Tracker.


The Coalition has actively mocked and blocked renewable energy — without any clean energy target, they left the states to pick up the slack.

From Tony Abbott’s attacks on climate policies, to Scott Morrison waving a lump of coal in Parliament and Angus Taylor’s attempt to introduce an expensive subsidy for coal power and spend clean energy funding on unprofitable fossil fuel projects … the Coalition has stood in the way of clean energy.

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With this lack of federal leadership, the states were left to pick up the slack. Analysis shows that the current state and territory climate policies translate to an estimated 37-42% reduction on 2005 emissions by 2030 – that’s higher than the Federal Coalition’s woefully weak target of 26-28% and means they could beat their own climate targets by letting state governments do all the work.


The Morrison government abandoned people hit by climate fuelled disasters and had no plans to help communities like the Latrobe Valley make the inevitable transition from coal and gas.

While Scott Morrison travelled to Hawaii during Black Summer bushfires, the 80 recommendations of the Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements were gathering dust. In a statement in March 2022, 37 former senior Australian fire and emergency service chiefs outlined how we are dangerously unprepared for the impacts of accelerating climate change.

Defence Force experts have also repeatedly warned the government that Australia is not prepared to deal with the impacts of the climate crisis, and that the government needs to conduct a “whole of ­nation climate and security risk assessment”. But they have been ignored.

Finally, after almost a decade in government, the Coalition still had no national transition plan, no coal closure timeline and no plans for retraining coal workers and helping communities diversify away from fossil fuels. Delaying this important work has made it harder to prepare for the inevitable changes and has meant missed opportunities. Learn more about what a just transition could look like here >>