Australian emissions fall to record low, but short of target for 2050

Smoke stack with blue sky background

The latest Quarterly Update of Australia’s National Greenhouse Gas Inventory has been released, showing that while Australia’s emissions have fallen to the lowest level on record. Despite the drop, our emissions are still well above where they need to be in order to meet the net-zero target by 2050 in line with the Paris Climate Agreement. 

The quarterly report to March of this year, showed Australia’s emissions were down 5.1% year-to-date compared to what they were during the 2020 calendar year. 

Australia’s energy industry has slowly been preparing for more renewables to enter the market, as the need for reduced emissions becomes more apparent and the price of clean power continues to fall. 

Australia continues to trail other developed nations on emissions and share of renewable energy despite an increased uptake in green power. The record low in emissions, as found in the quarterly update, show that both governments and individuals around the country are turning to renewable sources for their energy supply as fossil fuels fall in necessity. 

While fossil fuel sources have historically prevailed as energy suppliers in history, Australia has been hesitant to switch primary sources to solar and wind energy - despite their increasing availability and affordability. 

Issues regarding stability and reliability of renewable energy sources have been used as primary arguments against the adoption of green power as a primary energy provider despite nations around the world proving that with the right infrastructure there are minimal disruptions.

Even closer to home, Tasmania has been powered by more than 99% renewable energy since 2020 compared to the 24% clean power for Australia as a whole.  

With an increase in clean energy infrastructure around the country and the Australian Energy Market Operator planning to have our main grids ready to handle 100% renewables by 2025, fossil fuels are becoming less important as a source of ‘stable’ energy. 

Record lows are still too many emissions

The current emission reduction goal set by the government is to see Australia cut emissions by 26-28% below 2005 levels by the year 2030. However detractors say this is far short of what is necessary if Australia is to meet a net-zero target by 2050, in line with the Paris Climate Agreement. 

While 2020 was the first of the last three years in which Australia’s emissions were under the required downwards trend to achieve the 26-28% reduction before 2030, the government’s own predictions have us missing out on the 2030 goal. 

While the Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction has celebrated the latest report as an indicator Australia is on track to achieve the 2030 emissions target, it would require Australia continuing a trend that it has only begun in a year that saw most of its citizens locked down for extended periods and almost all international travel halted.

Looking for more on green power? Our renewable energy FAQs has everything you need to know about the move away from fossil fuels.

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