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Australia's abatement task: tracking to 2020

Department of the Environment, 2015


The Australian Government is on track to achieve its target of reducing Australia's greenhouse gas emissions to five per cent below 2000 levels by 2020.

Australia's projected cumulative abatement task from 2013 to 2020 has fallen every year. The latest update shows that we will meet and exceed our 2020 emissions reduction target.

The revised projections to 2020 demonstrate that Australia is continuing to reduce its emissions and will be well placed to step up to reduce greenhouse emissions to 26-28 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030.

Australia's cumulative abatement task has fallen as the Australian economy has become less emissions intensive (Figure 1).

Figure 1 Change in the cumulative abatement task over time

Figure 1

For the first time, abatement from the Emissions Reduction Fund has been included in the projections and the Fund plays a major role in lowering the abatement task.

The projected abatement estimate for the Emissions Reduction Fund to 2020 of 92 Mt CO2-e takes into account the results from the first two auctions and the $1.3 billion available at future auctions.

The reduction in emissions is also driven by lower emissions growth across the economy, with the following three factors contributing the largest downward revisions:

  • The electricity sector, where the projected share of renewable generation has increased compared to previous projections.
  • The land use, land use change and forestry sector, with lower forecast rates of harvesting in the Australian forests products industry.
  • The fugitives sector where there are slower growth expectations in the coal sector due to lower international coal prices.

Figure 2 Change in the cumulative abatement task, 2013 to 2020

Figure 2

International units have been voluntarily transferred to the Commonwealth under the Waste Industry Protocol (22 Mt CO2-e). The Government will use these units to contribute to meeting our 2020 target.

The cumulative abatement task also includes the use of units carried over from the Kyoto Protocol first commitment period (CP1) of 128 Mt CO2-e.

Meeting Australia's 2030 target

Australia will meet our 2030 targets through policies that provide positive incentives to reduce emissions. At the core of Australia's climate change policies are the Emissions Reduction Fund and safeguard mechanism.

The Emissions Reduction Fund supports Australian businesses, communities and landholders to undertake activities which reduce or avoid greenhouse gas emissions and ensure we meet our national targets. To date the Emissions Reduction Fund has purchased 92.8 million tonnes in emissions reductions at an average price of $13.12 per tonne, including in projects which improve energy efficiency, capture methane from landfills and store carbon in forests and soils.

The Emissions Reduction Fund is complemented by the safeguard mechanism which will ensure that emissions reductions purchased by the Government are not offset by significant rises in business-as-usual emissions elsewhere in the economy. The safeguard mechanism will start on 1 July 2016.

The Renewable Energy Target helps Australian households and businesses to install solar and other renewable energy technologies, transforming our electricity sector to cleaner and more diverse sources, and supporting growth and employment in the renewable energy sector.

The Renewable Energy Target allows sustainable growth in both small and large scale renewable technologies, delivering a doubling to more than 23 per cent of Australia's electricity from renewable sources by 2020.

Through the Renewable Energy Target, the Government is continuing to support households wishing to install rooftop solar panels or solar hot water systems. So far more than 2.4 million household solar systems have been supported by the scheme-one of the highest percentage uptakes in the world.

The National Energy Productivity Plan, including a target to improve Australia's energy productivity by 40 per cent between 2015 and 2030, will see improvements in how households and businesses use energy in their s, offices, and industrial facilities. The Plan will include measures to make energy choices easier and will encourage improvements in the efficiency of appliances, equipment, buildings and transport, as well as wider innovation in energy services. The Plan will be progressed in collaboration with the states and territories through the Council of Australian Governments' Energy Council.

The Government has announced a Ministerial forum to commence work on improving the fuel efficiency of Australia's vehicle fleet. Work has commenced to investigate the implementation of Euro 6 standards, improved fuel quality standards and new measures to address the fuel efficiency of vehicles. In addition the Government will examine further measures such as incentives and standards to encourage the purchase of more fuel efficient vehicles.

Australia has led the world in reducing ozone depleting substances under the Montreal Protocol. Australia is continuing to play a key role in achieving major progress towards the global phase-down of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), including through the development of a Dubai Roadmap for the phase down of HFCs, negotiated in November 2015. Internationally, Australia will work with other countries to reduce global use of these very potent greenhouse gases by 85 per cent by 2036. Domestically a review of Australia's ozone and synthetic greenhouse gas legislation is underway, including options to fast track a domestic phase down of HFCs.

Figure 3 Indicative emissions reductions sources, 2020 to 2030

Figure 3

Australia's 2030 target is achievable using Direct Action approaches. 'Technology improvements and other sources of abatement' include technology innovation and breakthroughs, and other action by businesses, governments and the community.

Source: Department of the Environment; chart represents indicative estimates. Actual emissions reductions will depend on final policy design, and the amount of emissions reductions required to meet Australia's 2030 target will depend on future emissions trends.

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