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Australia’s emissions projections 2020

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Publication Date: 
December 2020

This report provides detail on Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions trends to 2030, including sector specific analysis of factors driving emissions. The report estimates the emissions reduction effort required to meet Australia's emissions reduction targets.

Projections include sensitivity analyses to illustrate how different economic and technology assumptions impact emissions.

Key data and insights

Australia is on track to meet its 2030 target of 26 to 28% below 2005 levels.

Australia’s 2030 target

The latest emissions projections show that Australia is on track to meet and beat its 2030 emissions reduction target. Australia’s position against the 2030 target has improved by more than 300 Mt CO2-e since our 2019 projections, and by 639 Mt CO2-e since 2018 (Figure 1). The improvement since 2018 is equivalent to taking all of Australia’s 14.7 million passenger vehicles off the road for 15 years.

Figure 1. Change in the cumulative emissions reduction task since 2018, 2030 target (26% below 2005 levels)

Bar chart showing the change in the 2030 cumulative emissions reduction task from 695 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2018 to 56 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2020.

Source: Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources

Tracking progress to the 2030 target

Australia has committed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 26 to 28% below 2005 levels by 2030.

Australia’s abatement task to meet the 2030 target is projected to be between 56 Mt CO2-e (26% reduction) and 123 Mt CO2-e (28% reduction) over the period 2021 to 2030. This is equivalent to between 1.2% of the emissions budget (26% target) and 2.6% of the emissions budget (28% target).

When past overachievement is included, Australia overachieves on the 2030 target by between 403 million tonnes (26% target) and 336 million tonnes (28% target). Under a scenario aligned with the Technology Investment Roadmap, Australia is expected to overachieve on its 2030 target by 145 Mt CO2-e. 

Emissions are projected to decline to 478 Mt CO2-e in 2030 which is 22% below 2005 levels. Under a scenario aligned with the Technology Investment Roadmap, emissions are forecast to be 436 Mt CO2-e in 2030. This is 29% below 2005 levels.

Progress towards Australia’s 2030 target is measured against an emissions budget of 4,832 to 4,764 Mt CO2‑e over the period 2021-2030. Australia’s 2030 target is converted into an emissions budget which enables Australia to annually track its progress to the target. Under the baseline scenario, emissions are projected to be 4,880 Mt CO2-e over this period (Figure 2).

Figure 2. Change in Australia’s 2030 projected emissions over time

Bar chart showing the change in projected emissions for the year 2030 from 786 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2012 to 478 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2020.

Source: Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources

Changes in technology a key driver of progress

Australia’s projected emissions profile continues to fall with each new set of projections. The downward revision in the 2020 projections reflects:

  • inclusion of new measures to accelerate the development and deployment of low emissions technologies in the Australian Government’s 2020‑21 Budget
  • a further reduction in projected emissions from the electricity sector due to continued strong renewables uptake (particularly small and mid-scale solar) by households and businesses
  • the temporary effect of COVID-related restrictions on the Australian economy, with projected impact of the pandemic on future emissions largely limited to an acceleration of pre-existing trends

To deliver on the commitment to meet and beat Australia’s 2030 target, the Australian Government has committed more than $5.3 billion to new emissions reduction measures over the last two Budgets.

The 2020 projections include a $1.9 billion investment package announced in the 2020-21 Budget. The package:

  • provides new funding to the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA)
  • expands the investment mandate of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation
  • supports the development and deployment of low emissions technologies by businesses and communities

Australia’s Technology Investment Roadmap will guide an expected $18 billion of Government investment in new and emerging technologies over the decade to 2030. The Government is Australia’s largest early-stage technology investor and has invested more than $10 billion in a wide range of low emissions technologies since 2014-15 (Figure 3).

Figure 3. Australian Government investment on low emissions technology research, development, demonstration and commercialisation (2014-15 to 2019-20), by technology

Pie chart showing public spending on low emissions technology research, development, demonstration and commercialisation (2014-15 to 2019-20), by technology. Solar makes up the largest portion of spending at $3.04 billion, followed by energy efficiency at $2.96 billion.

Source: Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources

Methodology

The Methodology for the 2020 Projections [2.89MB PDF] [225KB DOCX] provides information on how the 2020 projections of greenhouse gas emissions are estimated. This methodology provides key data inputs, assumptions, formulas and methods.

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Contact us

Email emissions.projections [at] industry.gov.au