Australia Environment - 2021


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Environment - current issues

soil erosion from overgrazing, deforestation, industrial development, urbanization, and poor farming practices; limited natural freshwater resources; soil salinity rising due to the use of poor quality water; drought, desertification; clearing for agricultural purposes threatens the natural habitat of many unique animal and plant species; disruption of the fragile ecosystem has resulted in significant floral extinctions; the Great Barrier Reef off the northeast coast, the largest coral reef in the world, is threatened by increased shipping and its popularity as a tourist site; overfishing, pollution, and invasive species are also problems

Environment - international agreements

party to: Antarctic-Environmental Protection, Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Antarctic Seals, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Climate Change-Paris Agreement, Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping-London Convention, Marine Dumping-London Protocol, Marine Life Conservation, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 2006, Wetlands, Whaling

signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

Air pollutants

particulate matter emissions: 7.19 micrograms per cubic meter (2016 est.)

carbon dioxide emissions: 375.91 megatons (2016 est.)

methane emissions: 105.01 megatons (2020 est.)

Total water withdrawal

municipal: 3.392 billion cubic meters (2017 est.)

industrial: 2.662 billion cubic meters (2017 est.)

agricultural: 10.5 billion cubic meters (2017 est.)

Total renewable water resources

492 billion cubic meters (2017 est.)


generally arid to semiarid; temperate in south and east; tropical in north

Land use

agricultural land: 52.9% (2018 est.)

arable land: 11.6% (2018 est.)

permanent crops: 0.09% (2018 est.)

permanent pasture: 88.4% (2018 est.)

forest: 16.2% (2018 est.)

other: 30.9% (2018 est.)

Revenue from forest resources

forest revenues: 0.13% of GDP (2018 est.)

Revenue from coal

coal revenues: 0.78% of GDP (2018 est.)


urban population: 86.4% of total population (2021)

rate of urbanization: 1.27% annual rate of change (2020-25 est.)

note: data include Christmas Island, Cocos Islands, and Norfolk Island

Waste and recycling

municipal solid waste generated annually: 13.345 million tons (2015 est.)

municipal solid waste recycled annually: 5,618,245 tons (2015 est.)

percent of municipal solid waste recycled: 42.1% (2015 est.)

NOTE: The information regarding Australia on this page is re-published from the 2021 World Fact Book of the United States Central Intelligence Agency and other sources. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of Australia 2021 information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Australia 2021 should be addressed to the CIA or the source cited on each page.

This page was last modified 16 Dec 23, Copyright © 2023 ITA all rights reserved.