Australia’s Greenhouse Gas Levels Have Decreased 15% from 1990

Recently Reported Greenhouse Gas Level: 515 Mt in 2020, a Decrease of 15% from 1990
(Source: Australian Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources)

The Australian government releases national emissions data on a quarterly basis. The latest release (for the April-June quarter of 2020) reports national emissions at 515Mt CO2 equivalents, a 3% drop from this time last year. However, this decrease is set to be short-lived, as COVID-19 restrictions were the primary driver behind a sharp fall in transport emissions. Australia’s national CO2 emissions remain around 1.5% of the global total.


While the above graph appears to display a positive trajectory of emissions reduction in Australia, further context and examination of these levels tells a more upsetting story. Arguments over Australia’s inclusion of Land Use, Land Use-Change and Forestry (LULUCF) emissions in its national data are continuing because of how they skew emissions profiles. Excluding LULUCF, Australia’s current national emissions are actually above its 2005 levels and, unfortunately, are increasing over the long-term. If abatement achieved dur to LULUCF emission reduction measures are removed over a same period as the above graph, then Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions levels look like the following:

Source: Greg Jericho

Analysts are concerned regarding these continual revisions of data. Every quarter Australia’s “baseline” emissions levels seem to be altered to make current emissions levels appear lower and lower by comparison, despite no tangible emissions reductions achievements. In fact, new analysis estimates that industrial emissions are set to increase 77% over 2005 baseline levels by the end of this decade, more than offsetting any cuts achieved in the electricity sector.

Australia’s flagship emission reduction policy continues to have little discernible effect on emissions. The Emissions Reduction Fund—where companies are directly paid for implementing emission reduction “projects”—has struggled to secure any meaningful emission reductions in the last four years. The last round of funding allocations in September 2020 only secured 7Mt CO2 equivalents (~1% of national emissions).

Emissions Reduction Fund secured abatement:

Source (Source:

Activity Ratings

Emissions Levels *** / 4 stars

Australia’s official emissions have decreased 10-25% over the last decade.

Existing Policies * / 4 stars

Australia’s emissions reductions policies are having negligible impact.

Combined Activity Rating **** / 8 stars

There is conjecture over the rates of decline among Australia’s emissions; that being said, Climate Action Tracker identifies rates of decrease as being below levels needed to keep global heating at 1.5 degrees Celsius. Some experts are concerned emissions from industry and transport sectors will increase to out-of-control levels over the next decade. These concerns are compounded with questions surrounding Australia’s flagship climate action policy—The Emissions Reduction Fund—has achieved insignificant emissions reductions over the last four years, likely with no improvements to come.


Angus Taylor MP, Minister of Energy and Energy Reduction

Address: 18 Hill Street Camden, Camden NSW, 2570

Telephone: +612 4658 7188


Twitter: @AngusTaylorMP


Additional Reading:

This Post was submitted by Climate Scorecard Australia Country Manager Julian Atchison

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