Historical emissions data covers the period 1990-2020, and taken from Australia's National Inventory Report 2020 (Australian Government, 2022c). Emissions for 2021 are estimates from this source. The CAT has converted the data to AR4 Global Warming Potential using average conversion factor (AR5 to AR4) for the year 2005 and 2020, for which gas breakdown was provided in that report (Australian Government, 2022c).
NDC and other targets
For the 2030 NDC target, we have estimated levels of emissions excluding LULUCF. We calculate the targeted 43% reduction from 2005 data. The NDC states that the historical data baseline year is from Australia's National Inventory Report 2020 (Australian Government, 2022c).
We exclude LULUCF by estimating the LULUCF sink from government projections and subtracting from the target. The government projections indicate LULUCF sink levels of 16 MtCO2e in 2030 (DISER, 2021d). The CAT has applied the government LULUCF projections growth rates to the latest LULUCF historical data, and estimate a LULUCF sink of -26 MtCO2e by 2030.
Analysis of the effect of the NDC on likely fossil fuel and industrial GHG emissions is made difficult by the fact that the NDC target includes LULUCF emissions, which have been substantial in the past and fluctuate significantly (Figure 2 under “Data Sources and assumptions” in our Australia report of 2015). We have estimated levels of emissions excluding LULUCF resulting from the NDC by subtracting projected emissions for the LULUCF sector in 2030 from the targeted level including LULUCF.
The conclusions of the present CAT assessment are subject to uncertainty as Australia regularly revises its emissions data. The government has repeatedly revised emissions projections downwards. This has typically not been backed by stronger climate policies but is rather the result of a change in assumptions. There have been significant recalculations of the LULUCF sector for 2030, ranging from -1 MtCO2e to -16 MtCO2e over the past 4 years. In 2021, the decline in emissions was attributed to a continuation of the Climate Solutions Fund that has so far proven ineffective (formerly called Emissions Reduction Fund) (DEE, 2019a; Department of the Environment and Energy, 2018).
Current policy projections
The policies and action projection is based on government baseline projections from 2021 that include the estimate impact of COVID-19 (DISER, 2021d). The CAT always provides policies and action projections excluding LULUCF. To this end, we subtracted the projections provided for LULUCF.
The 2021 projections include the following policies:
- Measures announced at the 2021–22 Budget, including funding for hydrogen hubs and CCS, support for farmers to reduce emissions through national soil carbon innovation challenge and trials for low-emission technologies, implementation of the Safeguard Crediting Mechanism, support for voluntary climate action through an expanded Climate Active framework, and investment to help Australian businesses and supply chains adopt energy efficiency measures.
- Technology Investment Roadmap and Low Emissions Technology Statement
- Emissions Reductions Fund and the Climate Solutions Fund
- Large-scale Renewable Energy Target (expired in 2020) and the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme
- State and national energy efficiency measures
- National Energy Productivity Plan
- Initiatives by ARENA and CEFC
- Renewable energy targets of Queensland, Victoria, Tasmania and the Northern Territory
- State waste policy
- The National Food Waste Strategy
- Legislated phase-down of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs)
- Energy Performance, refrigeration and air conditioning measures
The high technology uptake scenario by government was not used, as it makes a number of assumptions not reflected in current policy. It assumes “stretch” goals for each of the priorities areas in the low emissions Technology Statement to be economically competitive and replace current high emissions technology (Australian Government, 2020d; DISER, 2021d). The scenario assumes renewables and battery storage costs decline faster than the baseline (Australian Government, 2020d; DISER, 2021d). It assumes households update battery storage, and high levels of distributed energy management and a higher levels of renewable generation compared to the baseline (Australian Government, 2020d). It also assumes a low energy demand due to higher energy efficiency rates and renewable uptake internationally compared to the baseline (Australian Government, 2020d). These different international assumptions do not reflect a policies and action scenario.
The current policy and action projections do not include announcements by the recently elected Labor government.
Global Warming Potential values
The CAT uses Global Warming Potential (GWP) values from the IPCC's Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) for all its figures and time series unless stated otherwise. Assessments completed prior to December 2018 (COP24) used GWP values from the Second Assessment Report (SAR).
To be relevant to national context we have used government values using AR5, but for comparability with other CAT countries AR4 values are also included.