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The 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda and the Paris Climate Agreement — taking urgent action to combat climate change: how is Australia likely to fare?

Maureen Papas

Keywords: 2030 Agenda; climate change; Paris Agreement; Australia; land and water management

The year 2015 marked a defining moment in the global quest for a sustainable future. First, on 25 September world leaders met at the United Nations (UN) Summit in New York, where they formally adopted the Post-2015 Development Agenda. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development — Transforming Our World (2030 Agenda) has a broad remit and provides a road map for global development efforts in response to the many challenges facing the world today. Second, under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) 195 countries reached an historic new climate change agreement in Paris on 12 December, marking the first meaningful progress in this area for some years. These two documents are inexorably interrelated by their objectives, their prospective and global focus, although developed by two different processes. Climate change is a long-term problem with a range of temporal effects that will have significant effects on the achievement of sustainable development (SD). Australia, as one of the driest inhabited countries, whose economic development relies on sound management of water and land use, has a great deal to gain from combatting climate change. Australian climate policy and progress in implementing its targets could meaningfully contribute to the achievement of the 2030 Agenda through critical activities actioned in the context of the new Paris Agreement. This article reviews the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement and provides critical analysis of how the Paris Agreement can deliver more effective measures to combat climate change in Australia. The Paris Agreement can drive certain actions but further action is required to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement and the 2030 Agenda targets. Australia could set the level of ambition needed to achieve meaningful progress towards climate change, but this must be backed by political will.

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