UN Committee urges Australia to cut emissions and rethink coal

The UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights has warned that Australia's performance in carbon emissions reduction and environmental protection has decreased in recent years and has urged the Australian government to review its position in support of coal mines and coal export.

The Committee, which reports to the UN high commissioner on human rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, recommended that the government immediately introduce new measures to cut the nation's growing carbon emissions and expand renewable energy production.

The recommendations are part of the Committee's findings on Australia's progress in implementing the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

The Committee, comprising 18 independent experts and chaired by Maria Virginia Bras Gomez of Portugal, expressed concern about Australia's continued increase of CO2 emissions, despite its commitments under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol, as well as its Nationally Determined Contribution under the Paris Agreement.

The Committee was also concerned that climate change is disproportionately affecting the enjoyment of Covenant rights by indigenous peoples of Australia.

The Committee recommended that Australia:

  • revise its climate change and energy policies;

  • take immediate measures aimed at reversing the current trend of increasing absolute emissions of greenhouse gases, and pursue alternative and renewable energy production.

  • review its position in support of coal mines and coal export.

  • address the impact of climate change on indigenous peoples more effectively while fully engaging indigenous peoples in related policy and programme design and implementation.

The concluding observations of the Committee are available here.

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