National Emissions Forecast Information Centre

The value of early climate action: one tonne now, or three tonnes later? 

Energetics has revised the national emissions reduction trajectory in our latest report ‘Tracking Australia’s emissions to 2020 and implications for 2030’. 

Results show that Australia will comfortably meet its 2020 cumulative abatement target, with or without carryover from CP1, thereby fulfilling our international commitment for that target period.

However, Australia will not achieve its absolute target which requires national emissions levels in 2020 to be 5 per cent lower than those in 2000. 

This is because national emissions have grown by 1.3% since 2015 and are forecast to continue to grow.

The recent upward swing in national emissions is significant not just because of the threat to the 2020 absolute target.  In missing the 2020 absolute target, the challenge of meeting the 2030 target is substantially greater. 

Energetics’ modelling supports the case for early action to address rising emissions. Our modelling shows that for every tonne of abatement achieved prior to 2020, Australia’s emissions reduction task to achieve our 2030 target is reduced by a factor of three. 

The current suite of climate policies can address rising emissions – if brought forward

Energetics forecast of emissions to 2020 only considered the impact of the Emissions Reduction Fund. However, there are several other national policies and programs that will be in force during the period to 2030. In our report released in May 2016, Modelling and analysis of Australia’s abatement opportunities: Meeting Australia’s 2030 emissions reduction target, our work showed that the current suite of national policies and programs have the potential to deliver the abatement needed to meet the 2030 target.

These include the programs under the National Energy Productivity Plan, the phase-out of alternatives to ozone depleting gases that have high global warming potential, and the Safeguard Mechanism.

The key now is to bring some of those policies forward; particularly the introduction of the National Energy Productivity Plan and the wider deployment of new energy saving measures in the built environment, so that the emissions in 2020 do not exceed the 5 per cent reduction target.

The size of the abatement task

If key policies and programs are brought forward, Energetics found that they must deliver around 106 Mt CO2-e of cumulative abatement over the period from 2016 to 2020 to meet the 5% reduction target in 2020. 

This has the effect of reducing the cumulative abatement task from 2020 to 2030 by 374 Mt CO2-e.

The cumulative abatement target in the period for 2020 to 2030 is therefore reduced to 817 Mt CO2-e.

Back in 2006 the Stern report drew the attention of governments, investors and climate campaigners across the world with its calls for early action to reduce the significant future economic and societal costs that come with delays. Energetics’ modelling further reinforces this argument for action now to reverse the current upward trend in national emissions.