Australia: Climate Progress Indicators

Quarterly data on energy use, agriculture, land use, industrial processes, and more available from the National Greenhouse Gas Inventory


In Post 49, three indicators for assessing Australia’s progress towards its climate emissions goals were identified: Greenhouse gas emissions by Australian Corporations (annual), full carbon accounting model (annual) and electricity generation by fossil fuels (annual). In this update we add one extra indicator: the national greenhouse gas inventory (quarterly).

While no updated emissions data is yet available to track Australia’s progress on emissions reduction, in this report we identify how we have changed our indicator measures. This includes adding quarterly data, and incorporating emissions data by sector and energy production, generation and export.

  1. National Greenhouse Gas Inventory (quarterly)

The Australian Government Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources provides a quarterly update of Australia’s National Greenhouse Gas Inventory. This data has tracked emissions from agriculture, land use, land use change, forestry, private vehicle transport and residential sectors since 1999. These updates can be viewed here, and are the most up-to-date information available regarding Australia’s national emissions. The data provides an annual summary of emissions and also provides a breakdown of emissions across different sectors. The data insights page summarises data for the year to date.

The latest quarterly update was published on 31st May 2022. While this data includes total emissions up until December 2021, emissions by sector are only available in the June – September 2021 quarter. This quarterly will be used as a baseline.

The latest data shows that for the quarter from July – September 2021 emissions were estimated to be 126.3 Mt CO2-e. We now also incorporate data recording emissions by sector by quarter. Our baseline data for the July – September 2021 is:

  • Energy (Electricity)—40.8 Mt CO2-e (or 32.3% of total emissions) were produced by fuel combustion to make electricity (on- and off-grid).
  • Energy (Direct combustion)—27.3 Mt CO2-e (21.6%) were produced by fuel combustion directly used in energy, mining, manufacturing, buildings and primary industries. Direct combustion excludes electricity use and transport.
  • Transport—20.2 Mt CO2-e (16%) came from fuel combustion used in road, rail, domestic shipping and aviation, off-road recreational vehicles and pipeline transport.
  • Agriculture—19.8 Mt CO2-e (15.7%) were produced from livestock (approximately 70% of agricultural emissions), application of fertilisers and soil additives, soil emissions and burning of agricultural residues.
  • Fugitive emissions—12.6 Mt CO2-e (10%) were produced from fugitive gas emissions from coal, natural gas and oil extraction, processing and supply. Fugitive emissions can be unintentional (for example, a leak) or intentional (such as the burning of waste gases). The main source is coal mines (66%), with underground coal mines producing more than surface mines.
  • Industrial processes—8.2 Mt CO2-e (6.5%) were produced from industrial and production processes that do not create energy. This includes metal production, chemical industry processes and synthetic gas production and use (for example, hydrofluorocarbons).
  • Waste—3.5 Mt CO2-e (2.8%) were produced from waste decomposition, treatment and combustion. This includes solid waste in landfill (the major source in this category), waste in wastewater and compost.
  • Land use, land use change, and forestry— -6.2 Mt CO2-e (-4.9%) were produced from deforestation (such as land clearing), reforestation, revegetation and forest, crop and grazing lands management. There is a greater level of uncertainty in calculating emissions for this sector.

The National Greenhouse Inventory is the most used data source for emissions tracking in Australia and is used to fulfil Australia’s international greenhouse gas inventory reporting commitments. However, there are questions around the accuracy of some data presented in the accounts, particularly regarding sectors such as land use and agriculture. As such, it is beneficial to also collect emissions data from other sources. As highlighted in Post 49, we also therefore track progress against three other indicators.

  1. Full Carbon Accounting Model (Annual)

The full carbon account model is a tool used to measure the levels of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions for land use, land use change and forestry sectors. Emissions data which includes the land sector are found in the Australian Greenhouse Emissions Information System (AEGIS). AGEIS trend data shows the levels of increase/decrease in greenhouse gases since the signing of the Paris Agreement in 2015. The Australian Greenhouse Emissions Information System portal can be accessed by this link.

AEGIS shows that 2020 land use emissions (including forest land, cropland, grassland, wetland, settlements, other land and harvested wood products) was 78,038.53 Gg CO2-e less than 2015. This figure is our baseline data and will not be updated until AEGIS data for 2021 land use emissions is published.

  1. Greenhouse gas emissions by Australian Corporations (Annual)

The baseline measurement for the Australian Corporations emissions was 399 Mt CO₂-e emissions for the 2020-2021 reporting year. This data is published on the 28th February each year by the Clean Energy Regulator and refers to emissions from registered corporations, reporting transfer certificate holders, designated generation facilities, the National Greenhouse and Energy Register, and GreenPower and renewable energy certificates. The data is only collected from Corporations that meet certain thresholds, and reflects emissions, energy production, and energy consumption each financial year.

The indicator specified in the February 2022 post has been refined to now demonstrate both Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions. The data highlights indicate that there was a total of 315 million tonnes of CO2-e Scope 1 emissions and 84 million tonnes of CO2-e Scope 2 emissions reported in the 2020-2021 year. More information regarding the data can be found here.

The next update from this data will be provided on February 22nd, 2023 and will reflect annual corporate emissions for the 2021-2022 year. Data on each registered Corporation is available on the Clean Energy Regulator Agency website.

The NGER scheme does not collect or publish data on emissions from the agriculture, land use, land use change, forestry, private vehicle transport and residential sectors. Emissions from these sectors are captured in the  National Greenhouse Accounts (see section 2 below).

  1. Australian Energy Statistics electricity generation by fossil fuels (Annual)

Australian Energy Statistics is a data source which is responsible for monitoring the energy supply and usage for the Australian Government. The latest Australian Energy Statistics 2021 Energy Update report provides information on Australian energy production, consumption and exports for the 2019-2020 year. We can view data on all three metrics in the spreadsheet titled ‘Australian Energy Updated 2021 data for charts’.

We have adjusted the baseline data used in Post 49 and separated our data into three categories: Electricity generation by fossil fuels, energy consumption of fossil fuels, and fossil fuel exports. We also report electricity generation via two measures: petajoules/year and terawatt hours.

That data shows that production in 2019-2020 was 20,055 petajoules with increased natural gas and oil production from the previous year. Of this energy production, 42.2% was generated from black coal, 24.4% from renewables, 20% from natural gas, 12.9% from brown coal and 1.7% from other sources. Fossil fuels provided 205.3 terawatt hours of electricity generation, while renewable energy provided 59.9 terawatt hours.

This data also shows the mix of energy sources for consumption, the highest of which was oil (2,241.2 petajoules, 37%), followed by coal (1,706.6 petajoules, 28%), natural gas (1,647.2 petajoules, 27%) and renewables (418.8 petajoules, 7%). In the 2019-2020 year 16,289.8 petajoules of fossil fuels (including coal, LNG, Oil and LPG and refined products) were exported.

Data source Performance Indicator Baseline Value Reporting period Date
National Greenhouse Gas Inventory Total National Emissions 126.3 Mt CO₂-e. Quarterly July-Sept 2021
Energy (Electricity) 40.8 Mt CO₂-e.
Energy (Direct combustion) 40.8 Mt CO₂-e.
Transport 20.2 Mt CO₂-e.
Agriculture 19.8 Mt CO₂-e.
Fugitive emissions 12.6 Mt CO₂-e.
Industrial processes 8.2 Mt CO₂-e.
Waste 3.5 Mt CO2-e
Land use, land use change and forestry -6.2 Mt CO₂-e
Full Carbon Accounting Model Land use emissions -78,038.53 Gg CO2-e  Annual Sept 2019-Sept 2020
Greenhouse gas emissions by Australian Corporations Scope 1 total 315 Mt CO₂-e Scope 1 emissions Annual 2020-2021 year
Greenhouse gas emissions by Australian Corporations Scope 2 total 84 Mt CO₂-e Scope 2 emissions Annual 2020-2021 year
Australian Energy Statistics Electricity generation by fossil fuels 20,055 petajoules, 205.3 terawatt hours Annual 2019-2020 year
Energy consumption of fossil fuels 5,595 petajoules 2019-2020 year
Fossil fuels exports 16,289.8 petajoules 2019-2020 year

This Post was submitted by Climate Scorecard Australia Country Manager Robyn Gulliver



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