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Media Release
Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Dr David Kemp

18 September 2003

Australia Moves Closer to Kyoto Target

Australia's greenhouse emissions are once again at 1990 levels and Australia remains on track to achieve its Kyoto target, according to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Dr David Kemp.

"The 2001 National Greenhouse Gas Inventory released today reports total greenhouse emissions for Australia of 543 million tonnes, the same level as they were in 1990," Dr Kemp said.

"The latest projections analysis shows that, on current measures, Australia will reach around 110 percent of 1990 greenhouse emissions levels by the end of the decade, just over two percent above the 108 percent target agreed to at Kyoto.

"The Government is currently developing a climate change forward strategy which will help bridge the gap to the Kyoto target and position Australia for the longer term."

The 2001 National Greenhouse Gas Inventory confirms the broad trends showing that emissions to this point from the energy sector have continued to grow while emissions from land use change and forestry have continued to decline. The Commonwealth's proposed new laws controlling synthetic gases used by industry are also making a contribution to today's figures.

Australia's emissions per unit of GDP are projected to decline substantially, by 44 percent from 1990 to 2012, and are expected to decline further by 2020 to be 52 percent below the 1990 level.

"The Howard Government is committed to achieving its Kyoto target while maintaining the competitiveness of Australian industry and protecting Australian jobs. Today's results demonstrate this Government's capacity to deliver both environmental and economic outcomes," Dr Kemp said.

"While Simon Crean claims he can solve the problem by merely ratifying a flawed international treaty that will, at best, deliver less than one percent reduction in global greenhouse gas emissions, the Howard Government is delivering real progress on greenhouse gas reduction by doing the hard policy work and backing that up with a commitment of almost a billion dollars.

"Australia's current greenhouse programs are expected to deliver annual emissions abatement of
67 million tonnes by 2008-2012, the equivalent to taking all today's cars, trucks and buses off the road. This compares favourably with last year's abatement projections of 60 million tonnes. By the end of the decade, greenhouse emissions would have been 123 percent of the 1990 level without these measures.

"All sectors of the economy have played a part in reducing Australia's greenhouse emissions. Australian industry, the farming community, state, territory and local governments, community groups and many committed individuals have all made a major contribution in working with the Howard Government to achieve this result."

For full details of today's announcement please visit the AGO website at:

Backgrounder - Australia Moves Closer to Kyoto Target


Australia has produced an annual inventory of national greenhouse gas emissions since 1990 as part of commitments under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The Inventory serves a dual purpose of providing greenhouse gas emissions estimates for the UNFCCC and for Australia's 108% emissions target agreed to at Kyoto.

The 2001 Inventory provides the latest report on Australia's greenhouse gas emissions and is based on international guidelines established by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Emissions Analysis by Sector

The 2001 Inventory reports on greenhouse gas emissions in the following key sectors:

Graph showing greenhouse gas emissions by sector for 2001

The energy sector emissions in 2001 totalled 369 million tonnes (Mt), accounting for 68% of net national emissions. Of total emissions, almost 260 Mt was from stationary sources such as electricity generation, 77 Mt from transport and 32 Mt from fugitive emissions such as methane from coal mines.

The agriculture sector accounted for 106 Mt or 20% of 2001 emissions. Livestock constitutes the largest share of agricultural emissions at 68 Mt. Emissions from agricultural soils and the burning of savannas accounted for a further 36 Mt.

Land Use Change and Forestry
Net emissions from land use change for 2001 were indicatively 37 Mt or 7 % of total emissions. In comparison, in 1990 land use change emissions accounted for 120 Mt of emissions or 22% of total 1990 emissions. Reforestation (plantations) contributed a sink of approximately 11 Mt in 2001. It is important to note that land use change emissions continue to be reviewed over time and that the 2001 figure may be revised upwards as remote sensing data and the land use change analysis are completed for subsequent years.

Industrial Processes
Emissions resulting from industrial processes totalled 25 Mt, accounting for 5% of national emissions in 2001. Metal production accounts for the majority of these industrial process emissions (15 Mt). The remaining emissions are generated from mineral products and halocarbons from refrigeration and air conditioning.

National Carbon Accounting System

The National Carbon Accounting System was established in 1999, with a key task of reducing significant uncertainties in the estimation of land-based sources and sinks of greenhouse gases. It is now regarded as a world leading greenhouse gas accounting system.

Accounting of Australia's greenhouse gas emissions from land use change relates to a specific set of circumstances based on deliberate forest conversion, and subsequent land use activity. In order to be counted under the Kyoto framework the land use change requires the conversion of a forest area to a non-forest area. The definition of forest for this purpose is land with vegetation that has the potential to reach a minimum 20 percent canopy, two metres in height and a minimum area of 0.2 hectares.

Projections to Kyoto Target

Australia remains within striking distance of its target of limiting greenhouse emissions to 108% of 1990 emissions over the period 2008-12, as agreed to at Kyoto. According to Kyoto rules, Australia's greenhouse gas emissions are projected to reach around 110% of 1990 levels on average by 2008-12, or 596 Mt.

The latest projection for the Kyoto period of 110% is slightly lower than the 2002 projection of 111%, after rounding. However, the aggregate projection essentially represents little change from last year's estimate.

To reach the 108% Kyoto emissions target will require further annual emissions savings of 13 Mt. However, there is always uncertainty with any economy-wide projections that look a decade ahead, and eventual emissions outcomes and hence the emissions 'gap' could differ.

A range of options exists to close the emissions gap. The Australian Government along with State, Territory and Local governments have already implemented a range of polices and programs, which are expected to cut emissions by around 67 Mt CO2-e per year by 2008-12. 'Business as usual' emissions growth would have reached 123% without savings from measures.

Emissions from the energy sector continue to grow and are being driven by Australia's relatively high rates of economic and population growth and international demand for Australia's resources.

A successful Queensland land clearing deal would make a significant contribution to meeting the Kyoto target. The Australian Government is working with the Queensland Government to achieve this, in consultation with landholders.

Emissions for 2020 are projected to be 126% of the 1990 level on an indicative basis, reflecting the impact of ongoing growth in emissions in the energy sector. This highlights the need to focus on lowering Australia's greenhouse emissions signature over the longer term, while maintaining a strong and internationally competitive economy.

Commonwealth of Australia