Coronavirus travel restrictions and the ongoing effects of drought have led to a slight reduction in Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions.

The latest data shows Australia’s emissions for the year to June are estimated to be 513.4 megatonnes of carbon dioxide, three per cent lower than the previous period.

The decrease is a result of drops in electricity, transport, fugitive emissions, industry, agriculture and waste.

But there were increases in stationary energy – including manufacturing and mining – and land use emissions and forestry.

Australia has a target of reducing emissions to five per cent below 2000 levels by 2020, with the data showing the goal has been met by 0.7 per cent.

It also means progress towards the Paris Agreement goal of reducing 2005 levels by 26 to 28 per cent by 2030.

The data shows the nation has reduced 2005 levels by 16.6 per cent.

Emissions Reduction Minister Angus Taylor said nearly 40 per cent of emissions were the result of export production, which has grown significantly over recent years.

“Despite upward pressure from exports and industry, emissions per capita and the emissions intensity of the economy continue to fall and are at their lowest levels in three decades,” he said on Monday.

Climate Council’s chief executive Amanda McKenzie says Australia’s emissions progress is thanks to state policy, with all jurisdictions aiming for net zero by 2050.

“The good news is it looks like the federal government is starting to see that renewables and energy storage technologies create jobs and huge opportunities for Australians,” she said.

“Until we are doing everything we possibly can to avert the climate crisis then we are not doing enough.”

With Australia’s key trading partners committing to net zero emissions targets by 2050 and 2060, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has changed his language on the issue.

He reiterated to parliament on Monday the government hoped to achieve net zero “as soon as possible”.

Labor has a net zero by 2050 target but has not announced an interim goal or fleshed out its policy plan.


* Electricity: Emissions dropped 4.3 per cent in the year to June, largely due to coal generation reducing and renewables increasing in the national electricity grid

* Transport: Levels reduced by 6.7 per cent over the period helped by lower petrol and jet fuel use from coronavirus restrictions

* Agriculture: Ongoing effects of the drought have reduced livestock numbers and fertiliser use, seeing emissions decline 3.7 per cent

* Exports: LNG exports rose six per cent but overall emissions from export industries decreased 1.8 per cent.

(Source: Quarterly Update of Australia’s National Greenhouse Gas Inventory: June 2020)