Australia Energy and Environment Facts

Natural resources and energy

Australia has large energy and mineral resources. The country is one of the world’s leading exporters of coal, iron ore, bauxite, aluminum, zinc and liquefied natural gas. In addition, Australia is one of the world’s leading producers of uranium and industrial diamonds. Copper, gold, lead, nickel, tin, silver, titanium and more are also mined.

The mining industry has contributed to strong economic growth during the 2000s. Many of the mines are located in Queensland and Western Australia.

  • COUNTRYAAH: Major exports by Australia with a full list of the top products exported by the country. Includes trade value in U.S. dollars and the percentage for each product category.

About a quarter of the world’s uranium is extracted in Australia, but the quarry is surrounded by political and economic constraints, as Australia has decided not to use nuclear power. Instead, production is exported. Exports to China have been controversial. At times, the construction of new uranium mines has been stopped by the environmental movement.

Since 1966, oil and gas have been extracted in the sea and on the mainland. Oil production has declined since the turn of the millennium, and oil and oil products are imported to fill the needs that exist. At the same time, liquefied natural gas has become increasingly important and there are seven plants for the production of this. Gas pipelines have been drawn to Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide, among others, while Australia has been transformed from importer to exporter of gas.

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Oil and oil products accounted for 39 percent of energy consumption in mid-2010, coal for 33 percent and gas for 24 percent. Renewable energy sources contributed 5 percent.

Domestic electricity comes largely from oil and coal-fired thermal power plants.

Aborigines, and other indigenous people, have long protested that their home areas were exploited by Australian and foreign mining companies. In 1998, a law was established that gives Aborigines the right to large land areas, even where minerals have been found. However, several legal disputes have taken place over the years regarding the exploitation of such land, as the legislation also takes into account the economic interests of the mining industry and the state.

In 2008, Australia agreed to the Kyoto agreement on greenhouse gas emission limits. In the climate agreement in Paris 2015, the country has undertaken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20–28 percent of the levels in 2005 by 2030.

In the summer of 2012, the government introduced a controversial carbon tax for companies with particularly high emissions (see above). But the bourgeois coalition that came to power after the 2013 parliamentary elections lifted the carbon dioxide tax in 2014.

How the country should meet its commitments to reduce emissions has subsequently remained a debated issue. Old coal-fired power plants with high emissions have been closed, but at the same time problems have arisen when there are not enough other energy sources to replace. The energy shortage has widened when producers of liquefied natural gas have prioritized exports rather than delivering inland. Attempts to replace coal-fired power plants with renewable energy from wind turbines and solar energy from the mid-2010s have led to recurrent power outages in South Australia due to unstable supply. In September 2017, Prime Minister Turnbull announced that investments would be made in so-called clean coal through more environmentally friendly extraction.

Australia has environmental problems such as soil erosion and desertification, while unique animal species and plants have disappeared due to agriculture and industries. At the same time, researchers state that the corals in the Great Barrier Reef are threatened by global warming.

During the 2000s, parts of Australia suffered for several consecutive years of persistent drought (but also severe flooding). This has placed higher demands on the governors at federal and state level to try to secure the water supply, for example through dam construction, water recycling systems and desalination plants. Water problems have led to higher prices and rationing, not least for agriculture.

The environmental destruction associated with secret British nuclear weapons tests in the 1950s has been a prolonged dispute. An agreement was finally concluded with the UK which promised to contribute financially to the rehabilitation of the experimental areas, where dangerous radiation is still being measured today. The Australian Government, in turn, promised financial compensation for Aborigines affected by land degradation.


Energy use per person

5 490 kilos of oil equivalent (2015)

Electricity consumption per person

10078 kWh, kWh (2014)

Carbon dioxide emissions in total

361 262 thousand tonnes (2014)

Carbon dioxide emissions per inhabitant

15.4 tonnes (2014)

The share of energy from renewable sources

9.2 percent (2015)



No clear drill bit

No party will be clearly victorious in the parliamentary elections. Labour’s Julia Gillard remains as prime minister at the head of a minority government, supported by some independent MPs.


Urine residents get a sea area

Residents of the islands in Torres Strait, a special group of native residents of Australia, are granted the right of origin to a sea area of ​​over 40,000 square miles by a Queensland court. It is the largest sea area awarded to the indigenous population.


Prime Minister Rudd is forced to resign

Following an internal vote in Labor, Kevin Rudd is forced to step down as party leader and is replaced by Julia Gillard, who will also become prime minister.



Indian students protest

Indian students in Australia are demonstrating against some 70, in their opinion racially motivated, attacks against them during the past year and India says they are concerned about the violence against Indian citizens.

Renovation Plans

Australia announces plans for a military upgrade and modernization for $ 70 billion. The program includes a doubling of the submarine fleet and a purchase of 100 so-called Stealth Fighter aircraft from the USA.


Agreement with Asean signed

Australia, together with New Zealand, signs a free trade agreement with the countries of the Southeast Asian cooperation organization Asean.

Deadly forest fires

More than 170 people are killed in the severe forest fires in the state of Victoria in the southeast.

Australia Energy and Environment Facts

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