Australia’s fossil fuel exports triple those of the United Arab Emirates

28.11.23 By

A new paper by the Climate Council highlights that Australia exports nearly three times as much fossil fuels as the United Arab Emirates, host of the United Nations climate talks that get underway in Dubai this week (known as COP28).

Senior Researcher at the Climate Council Dr Wesley Morgan said: “There has been a lot of focus on the fact that the UN climate talks are this year hosted by a major oil exporter, but Australia – which has put up its hand to host COP31 with Pacific island countries in 2026 – is also a fossil fuel heavyweight. We export much more fossil fuels than the UAE does.

“Australia must show a genuine commitment to phasing out coal, oil and gas, and aligning with global efforts to tackle climate change if we are to truly stand alongside our Pacific neighbours knowing we are doing everything possible to protect our communities and region.”

The paper details the extent of Australia’s fossil fuel exports as well as plans to expand coal and gas production at a time when scientists say we need to rapidly phase out their use. It emphasises the consequences of doing too little or acting too slowly, with climate-fuelled disasters becoming more frequent and 2023 likely to be the hottest year on record globally. 

The paper makes it clear that the global energy transformation is well underway, with renewable energy sources like solar and wind becoming cheaper and more accessible around the world, replacing the use of fossil fuels in electricity generation and transportation. Further steps are needed to build on this momentum and accelerate the pace. 

Climate Councillor Nicki Hutley stresses how much Australia’s economy has to gain from this shift to clean energy, saying: “We already know the cost of inaction will lead to economic, social, and environmental damages in the trillions of dollars. This underscores the urgency for Australia to embrace its abundant renewable resources.

“Australia is one of the sunniest and windiest countries on earth, rich in critical minerals and is ideally positioned to become a major exporter of clean technologies and green metals. As the world moves rapidly towards net zero, these resources put us at the forefront of meeting the growing demand for sustainable and low-carbon commodities.

“As countries take stock of their collective climate action it’s clear we will all have to do better in order to meet the goal of limiting harmful global heating as much as possible.

“In line with the science, and considering Australia’s vast untapped opportunities for renewable energy, Climate Council says our nation should be aiming to cut emissions by 75% by 2030, and reach net zero by 2035.”

The Climate Council is conducting a COP28 briefing for media on Tuesday, November 28, from 1:45-2:30 pm AEDT via Zoom. If you would like to attend, please email George Hyde. Additionally, for interviews or further information, you can contact George Hyde directly at 0431 330 919 or via email at

The Climate Council is Australia’s leading community-funded climate change communications organisation. We provide authoritative, expert and evidence-based advice on climate change to journalists, policymakers, and the wider Australian community.

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