Australia's emissions continue to fall

The Australian Government has released the March 2021 Quarterly Update of Australia’s National Greenhouse Gas Inventory, which shows emissions have fallen to the lowest level on record.

Emissions have continued to fall over the last year even as the Australian economy recovers from the global pandemic. The economy was 1.1% larger in the March quarter 2021 relative to the March quarter 2020. On the same basis, emissions were 3.2% lower than a year earlier.

In the year to March 2021, emissions were 494.2 million tonnes – 5.3% or 27.8 million tonnes lower than in 2020.

Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions are now at 20.8% below 2005 levels (the baseline year for our 2030 Paris Agreement target).

Just as Australia beat its 2020 target by 459 million tonnes, we are on track to meet and beat our 2030 Paris target.

When exports are excluded, domestic emissions are now 38.3% below 2005 levels.

Emissions from electricity generation continued their long-term, structural decline in the year to March 2021, down 5.6% or 9.7 million tonnes.

This continuing decline in emissions is driven by Australia’s world-leading deployment of solar and wind.

Since 2017, Australia has invested over $35 billion in renewables and in 2020 deployed new wind and solar PV at eight and a half times the global per capita average.

Fugitive emissions also fell 8.3% or 4.5 million tonnes, with the ramp up of the Gorgon carbon capture and storage facility in Western Australia making a significant contribution.

Transport emissions also fell by 13.2% or 13.1 million tonnes.

Despite upward pressure from growth in exports and industry, emissions across the economy are now the lowest on a per capita basis in three decades.

The Government’s strong management of the economic and health response to the pandemic saw the Australian economy grow by 1.8% during the March quarter, while emissions rose 0.3% or 0.4 million tonnes in trend terms.

The production of exports for overseas markets generates 38.9% of Australia’s total emissions. The value of Australia’s overseas exports has increased by around $110 billion since 2013, reflecting the Government’s strong economic management.

While there is still work to be done, this data shows the Government’s comprehensive suite of policies to meet its emissions reduction commitments, encourage innovation and back new and emerging low emissions technologies are working.

As part of the 2021-22 Budget the Government announced a further $1.6 billion to bolster Australia’s position as a leader in low emissions technologies and to meet Australia’s emissions reduction targets, taking our total expected investment to more than $20 billion over the decade to 2030.

Investing in low emissions technologies will enable Australia’s continued success in meeting and beating our emissions reduction targets.

Over the last two years, the projected emissions reductions required to achieve that target have fallen by 639 million tonnes – the equivalent of taking all of Australia’s 14.7 million cars off the road for 14 years.

Between 2005 and 2019, Australia reduced emissions faster than many similar economies, including Canada, New Zealand, Japan and the United States.

The Quarterly Update of Australia’s National Greenhouse Gas Inventory: March 2021 can be found here:

Media contact:

Minister Taylor's office 02 6277 7120