According to the 2020 Climate Change Performance Index, Australia was ranked as the worst-performing country on climate change policy. The country has an ambivalent record of climate policy development as well as implementation, and has been criticized for its inaction. This paper considers why the country has been locked in climate policy “paralysis” through analyzing defining attributes of such a paralysis, and the tentative connections between domestic energy policies and international trade and development. We conducted a media content analysis of 222 articles and identified media narratives in three cases of energy projects in the country involving thermal coal exports, domestic renewable energy storage, and closure of a domestic coal power station. The analysis reveals that policy paralysis in Australian climate change policy can be traced back to the countervailing arguments that have been pervasive around domestic energy security, rural employment and international energy poverty. The political establishment has struggled to develop a sustainable consensus on climate change and the citizenry remains polarized. We also discuss how a “focusing event,” such as a major natural disaster can break the impasse but this is only possible if energy security at home, energy poverty abroad and employment imperatives across the board are clearly delineated, measured and prioritized. © 2020 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

Language: English

Publisher: MDPI Energies

Type: Article


Ali, Saleem H., Svobodova, Kamila, Everingham, Jo-Anne, and Altingoz, Mehmet (2020). Climate policy paralysis in Australia: energy security, energy poverty and jobs. Energies 13 (18) 4894 4894.

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Climate policy paralysis in Australia: Energy security, energy poverty and jobs

Climate policy paralysis in Australia: Energy security, energy poverty and jobs