The 2020 emissions projections confirm our long stated position that Australia will not need Kyoto carryover credits to meet the Paris 2030 emissions target.

Much is made of whether the Federal Government will meet Australia’s 2030 emissions target or adopt a net zero target for 2050. But all States have announced net zero emissions targets by 2050, so the lack of formal acceptance of the target at Federal level is more symbolic.

For 2030, the combination of current State 2030 emissions targets should see Australia on track for a 33% reduction of 2005 emissions, which is more than required to meet the National target of 26-28% by 2030 and closer to the 36% 2030 target that we recommended in 2015[1].

State and Territory targets provide a floor on emissions reductions. For Australia to miss the 2030 national emissions targets, it would require failure at both Federal and State level to meet respective targets.

State of play

Australia currently has a national emissions target of 26-28% reduction on 2005 levels by 2030. However, almost all State and Territory Governments (with the exception of WA and NT) have announced more ambitious 2030 targets as pathways to net zero targets that all states and territories have announced for 2050.

Table 1 summarises the State and Territory ambitions and the implications of these targets for the national target. The combination of State 2030 emissions targets should see Australia on track for a 33% reduction of 2005 emissions, which is more than required to meet the national target of 26-28% by 2030.

The following are most noteworthy:

  • States with larger emissions have a greater impact on meeting the national target. The targets in QLD, NSW and Vic (and the lack of a target in WA) are most significant. The targets of the three largest emitters all exceed the national target.
  • Victoria has yet to finalise a 2030 target though the range recommended by the expert panel was 45-60%. We conservatively assume the lower bound of 45% is adopted in calculations below.
    • Even if a lower target of 35% is adopted (in line with NSW) then this would still mean a national equivalent of 31% reduction by 2030, which still beyond the 26-28% national target.
  • Although there is concern about growth in LNG emissions, QLD must account for a large share of national LNG emissions as part of its 30% target: deeper cuts in other sectors in QLD are required to offset this growth.
  • The main risk is growth in emissions in WA and NT (which are yet to adopt 2030 targets) that might offset the reductions in other states. The assumption in the table below is that WA and NT could reduce 2030 emissions just to 2005 levels.
    • Even if WA and NT only maintain emissions at 2017 levels, this should still result in national cuts of 30% if other regions meet their targets.
    • WA would have to grow by a further 25Mt above 2017 levels by 2030 (a 58% increase on 2005 emissions) to bring national emissions reductions down to 26% by 2030 if all other States and Territories meet their intended targets.

If all State and Territory targets are achieved, then Australia should comfortably meet the national target.

It follows that if Australia is to miss the national target then this would require failure at both the Federal and the State level in meeting applicable targets. More formal bipartisan collaboration on achieving common targets would be welcome in climate and energy policy in Australia.

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