The SoE 2011 report discussed 3 drivers of environmental change: climate change (described as a direct driver of change), and population growth and economic growth (described as indirect drivers).
In SoE 2016, climate change is recognised as an increasingly important and pervasive pressure on all aspects of the Australian environment, rather than as a driver. Accordingly, climate change is not included in the Drivers report, but is covered in detail in the Overview report, the Atmosphere report and the other thematic reports, as relevant.
Australia’s population increased by about 1.7 million people from 2010 to 2015, to an estimated 24 million in March 2016. About two-thirds of Australia’s population live in a greater capital city. These areas generally experienced faster population growth than the rest of the country from 2010 to 2015 (ABS 2016a).
Many areas that experienced strong growth were on the fringes of capital cities, where more land tends to be available for subdivision and housing development (ABS 2016a). Generally, the most prominent growth outside capital cities between 2011 and 2015 occurred along the coast of Australia, particularly in Queensland.
Between 2011 and December 2014, Australia’s economy continued to grow at an average rate of 3 per cent per year (Australian Government 2015). However, the heavy investment in production facilities for the extractive resource industries (e.g. mining) that was seen in 2006–11 declined as commodity prices fell.