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The Australian Government, in conjunction with the Government of the US State of California, has announced a new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that seeks to combine the efforts of a range of sectors – such as energy, transportation and technology – to address the major threat presented by climate change.

The new MoU outlines five years of cooperation on clean energy, clean transportation, clean technologies, nature-based solutions, adaptation, green finance and investment, circular economy and research and development. Through policy collaboration, mutually beneficial joint initiatives, public-private partnerships, and the exchange of scientific knowledge and technical expertise, the two governments intend to further advance each other’s endeavours in climate action and environmental protection.

A joint statement has been signed and issued by California Governor, Gavin Newsom, and Australia’s Ambassador to the United States, Dr Kevin Rudd.

The statement said that the global scientific community has come to a consensus around the urgent threats of the climate crisis and biodiversity loss. As the world comes dangerously close to tipping points of irreversible change, the governments of Australia and California are choosing to work together to address these existential risks. 

In addition to creating a framework for cooperation on climate action and ecosystem protection, the MoU signed on 16 August 2023 promotes the creation of clean jobs and inclusive economic growth for Australians and Californians alike.

The statement said that the governments’ shared interests encompass both the responsibility to mitigate global climate change and the imperative to adapt to changes and invest in communities’ resilience to local impacts. 

“Our two governments have each set foot on ambitious, long-term decarbonisation journeys: in 2022, landmark legislation in California and Australia codified in law our respective 2045 and 2050 targets for carbon neutrality and net zero emissions with interim targets for greenhouse gas emissions reductions, while establishing other new pillars of climate action.”

On the heels of the Earth’s hottest month on record, and having recently experienced similar severe weather events and unprecedented disasters, the statement said that Australia and California share a pressing and immediate priority in addressing climate risks such as heatwaves, storm surges, wildfires, drought, and flooding. 

In response, both governments are investing heavily in economy-wide adaptation strategies, community resilience, water efficiency and infrastructure, climate-smart agriculture and nature-based solutions that support thriving and equitable communities, while delivering benefits to the climate and their ecosystems. 

“We are both home to biodiversity hotspots with large numbers of endemic species found nowhere else on earth and face challenges in our efforts to protect this unique natural heritage,” the statement said. 

“Our respective commitments to protecting and conserving 30 per cent of our lands and coastal waters in California and of lands and oceans in Australia by 2030 creates more opportunity to tackle these challenges together.”

The statement said that Australia and California already have a strong relationship to depend on, one characterised by long standing economic, scientific, and cultural ties. 

These dynamic relationships have the potential to advance partnerships between Australian and Californian enterprises on clean technology and innovation while expanding mutually beneficial trade and investment. 

California’s partnership with Australia at the federal level also builds on a history of state-to-state cooperation. As leaders in wildfire prevention, response and protection, California and New South Wales have joined together to partner in research, practices, training, and technology, and have supported one another through firefighter exchanges since 2000. 

Since November 2022, this state-level collaboration also includes knowledge sharing and solutions about the constraints and challenges to planning, permitting, and constructing offshore wind facilities and how to mitigate those challenges. 

That statement said that going forward, California and Australia will continue to explore opportunities to decarbonize the aviation sector and advance vehicle efficiency standards. Australia’s partnership with California follows the announcement of the national-level Climate, Critical Minerals and Clean Energy Transformation Compact in May 2023.

“Throughout our work together, we acknowledge the ongoing processes of reconciliation with Indigenous Australians and Californians, reaffirm the need for their full, equal, and meaningful representation and participation, and recognize the vital importance of Indigenous knowledge in environmental stewardship and addressing climate change. 

“We also reaffirm our imperative for climate action to contribute to reducing inequalities.”

The statement said that the commitments made in the MoU are just the beginning of a significant and long-term partnership. 

“Together, our governments will demonstrate that fighting climate change and protecting biodiversity can provide immediate benefits to human wellbeing, while promoting inclusive economic growth and helping to preserve the long-term sustainability of life on our planet.”

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