Carbon Emissions in Australia: Where Are We At?

Following an interview# on ABC TV program Insiders, many Australians felt none the wiser over the status of carbon emissions in Australia. The Insiders host Barrie Cassidy grilled Energy Minister Angus Taylor on whether carbon emissions are up or down.

Government Reporting of Carbon Emissions in Australia

Angus Taylor spent much of the Insiders interview claiming carbon emissions were trending down. He pointed to a National Greenhouse Gas Inventory  report, which showed emissions were down 1.4%*. However the issue was the figure mentioned was only for the quarter to September 2018.

The Other Side of Carbon Emissions in Australia

Barrie Cassidy presented a different view of the National Greenhouse Gas Inventory. He pointed out carbon emissions in Australia were trending up over the course of the whole year, as opposed to the reduction in the one quarter. Furthermore, according to National Greenhouse Gas Inventory data, since June 2013 carbon emissions have increased every single financial year*. Although there’s been a few quarters where reductions have occurred, these reductions were not enough to influence trend over the entire year’s data.

What are the Targets for Carbon Emissions in Australia?

Under the Paris Agreement, Australia has committed to reduce carbon emissions by 26-28% by 2030+. This uses 2005 figures as a starting point. Following that, we should be reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Most experts believe we can achieve these targets considering our potential for renewable energy. However, a 2018 report by ClimateWorks suggested we were only on track to reduce emissions by 11% by 2030>. But government policy and industry support are key factors deciding whether we can easily meet the targets as suggested by the report.

Following the recent COP26 summit in Glasgow, Scotland in November 2021, Australia has committed to the achieving the reductions agreed to under the Paris Agreement and latest modelling presented at the summit suggests Australia will achieve up to a 35 per cent reduction in carbon emissions by 2030. Crucially, the Australian government has committed to investing $21 billion in the next generation of low emissions technologies, to drive up to $120 billion of total public and private investment in Australia by 2030^. What does this mean for green, renewable energy and cheaper energy in Australia?

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# Barrie debates the Energy Minister on whether emissions are going up or down | Insiders – March 2019

* Australian Government Greenhouse Gas Inventory Report Sept 2018

+ Paris Agreement

> ClimateWorks Report

^ Ministerial Media Release -Australia Welcomes Positive Outcomes at COP26 – 14 November 2021