Emissions fall to lowest level on record

Today the Morrison Government released the December 2020 Quarterly Update of Australia’s National Greenhouse Gas Inventory.

In the year to December 2020, emissions were 499.0 million tonnes – 5.0 per cent or 26.1 million tonnes lower than in 2019. 

This is the lowest level on record and 20.1 per cent below 2005 levels (the baseline year for our 2030 Paris Agreement target).

When exports are excluded, domestic emissions are now 37.4 per cent below 2005 levels.

Emissions from electricity generation continued their long-term, structural decline in 2020, down 4.9 per cent or 8.7 million tonnes relative to 2019. 

Fugitive emissions also fell 8.8 per cent or 4.8 million tonnes, with the ramp up of the Gorgon carbon capture and storage facility in Western Australia making a significant contribution. The Gorgon CCS facility will permanently store around 4 million tonnes of carbon dioxide each year at full rate, making it the largest, purely emissions reduction facility of its kind in the world.

COVID-related restrictions on transport activity reduced emissions from that sector by 12.1 per cent or 12 million tonnes. Land sector emissions were slightly higher over the year to December.

The Government’s strong management of the economic and health response to the pandemic saw the Australian economy grow by 3.1 per cent during the December quarter, while emissions fell 0.6 per cent on a seasonally adjusted and weather normalised basis.

Reductions in electricity and fugitive emissions more than offset a small rise in transport emissions during the December quarter.

In the year to March 2021, emissions in the National Electricity Market fell 5.6 per cent.

The continuing structural decline in emissions from electricity 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.

The production of exports for overseas markets generates 39.1 per cent 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.

Despite upward pressure from growth in exports and industry, emissions per capita and the emissions intensity of the economy continue to fall and are at their lowest levels in three decades.

The Government has a comprehensive suite of policies to meet its emissions reduction commitments, encourage innovation and back new and emerging low emissions technologies.

The Government has announced, as part of the 2021-22 Budget, 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. Australia beat its 2020 target by 459 million tonnes and we are on track to meet and beat our 2030 Paris target.

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 15 years.

Between 2005 and 2019, the last year for which comparable data is available, 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: December 2020 can be found here: https://www.industry.gov.au/data-and-publications/national-greenhouse-gas-inventory-quarterly-update-december-2020

Media contact:

Minister Taylor's office: 02 6277 7120