Australia: The 2021 Climate Year in Review

Australia: The 2021 Climate Year in Review


  • Next Generation Electric Bus Depot Project
  • Australia’s Partnership with Papua New Guinea and Fiji to Reduce Emissions
  • Climate Services for Agriculture Program Prototype
  • Australia’s Long Term Emission Reduction Plan (presented at COP 26)


  1. Next Generation Electric Bus Deport Project

One fifth of Australia’s emissions come from transport. Therefore, vehicle electrification is required to transition to a decarbonised economy. The Next Generation Electric Bus Depot project was started in September 2021 and is delivered by Transgrid and UK company Zenobe Energy in New South Wales. This project includes new charging infrastructure, on site solar generation and batteries for the depot and 40 electric buses – the largest single fleet of electric buses in Australia.

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has funded $5 million to support the Next Generation Bus Deport project. The Clean Energy Finance Corporation has contributed $24.5 million to this project. The electric bus fleet will service public bus routes in Sydney’s Inner West, the CBD, Mascot and Green Square. The Leichhardt depot is being retrofitted to include the combination of 368 kWh and 422 kWh onboard batteries, thirty-one 80 kW electric bus chargers, five 120 kW electric bus chargers capable of charging two buses at a time, 2.5 MW / 4.9 MWh of stationary batteries, and 387 kW of rooftop solar PV.

This project intends to establish a business model that allows capital items (e.g., charging and grid infrastructure) to be turned into a managed service and take the risk off the operators. This is a first step towards the New South Wales Government’s goal to electrify 8000 strong fleet by 2030. This project will also contribute towards carbon emissions. If this project is successful, the Australian Government can take this under consideration to be adapted to other states and territories.

  1. Australia’s partnership with Papua New Guinea and Fiji to Reduce Emissions

Australian Government signed partnership agreements with Fiji and Papua New Guinea in Glasgow while attending the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) under the Indo-Pacific Carbon Offsets Scheme. Australia and Fiji’s partnership was announced on 1 November 2021. Australia and Papua New Guinea’s partnership was announced on 4 November 2021.

The Indo-Pacific Carbon Offsets Scheme’s objectives are to boost public and private investment in climate action, create opportunities for Australian businesses to offset their emissions, support partner countries in setting global standards, enhance environmental, climate adaption, and livelihood benefits to communities. This scheme is $104 million investment which is expected to run for 10 years until 2031. The scheme will equip partner countries like Fiji and Papua New Guinea in generating and trading high-integrity carbon offsets under the Paris Agreement. Australia will also support Papua New Guinea and Fiji in establishing efficient national climate policy frameworks, carbon accounting and reporting, as well as launch low emissions projects. Papua New Guinea and Fiji will also play a part in co-designing this scheme.

Currently for Australia, the scheme will be monitored by Clean Energy Regulator. However, there are current discussions about involving various other departments in decision making & implementation like Department of Prime minister and Cabinet, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment.


  1. Climate Services for Agriculture Program Prototype

 The Climate Services for Agriculture Program was designed by The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and Australian Bureau of Meteorology. The first prototype was launched on 1 July 2021. Climate Services for Agriculture Program Prototype is basically an interactive digital platform which provides farmers information regarding climate risk and impacts on agricultural productivity. This will consequently help farmers make informed decisions regarding their businesses and climate change impact. The prototype will provide you with historical data (1961-2020), seasonal forecasts (1-3 months) and future climate projections (2030,2050,2070).

Currently, this tool is only focusing on 8 pilot regions of Australia to increase engagement with farmers by consultation, evaluation, and feedback purposes. The 8 pilot regions include Queensland Dry Tropics, Condamine and the Northern Tablelands, Victorian Mallee and southeast South Australia, Western Australian Wheatbelt, Tropical North, Central West New South Wales, Riverina and Goulburn-Murray, Gippsland, and Northern Tasmania.


Australia presented a Long-Term Emissions Reduction Plan at the Glasgow Climate Change Conference. The aim of the plan is for Australia to achieve net zero emissions by 2050 while also providing opportunities to the Australian economy during the transition to emissions reduction. There are four strategies which will be put in place for the successful delivery of this plan: (1) lowering costs of low emissions technologies, (2) seizing opportunities in the market, (3) enabling large-scale deployment of renewable resources, and (4) encouraging global collaboration.

In my perspective, Australia is on the correct path to be in line with 1.5 degrees Celsius global warming goal. The long-term emissions reduction plan can be a huge success as it outlines specific practical steps which can be taken by each region in order to meet net zero emissions goal by 2050 rather than only assumptions. It is not limited to only the business sector and covers the economy as a whole. In addition, it is a technology-driven approach based on existing successful policies. The plan demonstrates how the priority technologies will deliver 85% of the emissions reductions necessary to achieve net zero by 2050. We have a strong track record to support Australia’s plan as our emissions are already 20% lower than 2005 levels.

Australia’s Technology Investment Roadmap is also on track to reduce emissions by up to 30-38% by 2030, well above our target of 26-28%. The plan will be reviewed every five years to evaluate progress and adapt to advances in technology. However, I do believe there are opportunities for improvement in this plan.

The third strategy of this plan refers to seizing opportunities in new and traditional markets. Australia’s traditional market includes industries like coal and gas export. Thus, these industries will still be continuing through to 2050 to support employment and security to the economy. If we consider the current COVID19 pandemic, this can be a reasonable safety measure to keep the economy going. However, from the climate change point of view, reducing these industrial sites will be more effective in achieving net zero goal by 2050.

I would highly recommend that the Australian Government review this aspect once Australia’s economy is stable post-COVID19. The plan also states that investing in future new and emerging technologies will reduce emissions by a further 15%. The plan does not have solid evidence to support this statement as it does not specify which technologies that the Australian Government will be investing in to develop. Thus, it can be referred to as an assumption at this stage. I would recommend the document to be clarified further. The plan should at least outline potential technologies which may be under consideration to be adapted.

This Post was submitted by Climate Scorecard Australia Country Manager Riya Shukla


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