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Australia’s greenhouse emissions reduce by 2percent in 2020 on coal decline

A decline in coal production and ongoing emission reductions in the electricity sector has contributed to Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions decreasing by 2.1 per cent in the year 2020 to June.

The latest quarterly update from the National Greenhouse Gas Inventory show Australia’s emissions have fallen by 20.4 per cent since 2005 – the baseline year for the 2030 Paris Agreement climate target.

It comes as 11 large companies, including Coles and Woodside, have signed up for the federal government’s Corporate Emissions Reduction Transparency (CERT) program to monitor their individual commitments to reduce carbon emissions.

The voluntary pilot program – which will add a new level of transparency and accountability for company’s performance against their emissions reduction targets – will be announced on Tuesday.

The Morrison government has no plans to make the CERT program compulsory, but has written to all ASX200 companies about the scheme to get as many businesses involved as possible.

Federal Energy Minister Angus Taylor said companies across a range of sectors, including natural gas, mining, property, finance and retail, had indicated they would opt into the CERT report which would show their net emissions in a clear and standardised way.

The scheme – which will be formalised next year – will be monitored by the Clean Energy Regulator.

“Eligible companies are urged to take part in the pilot and show they will be accountable for the commitments they’ve made,” Mr Taylor said.

“It will provide a one-stop shop for the public to access net emissions, renewable electricity and offset data for Australia’s largest companies and understand their plans to decarbonise.”

Clean Energy Regulator chairman David Parker said the CERT report was a simple reporting framework for companies to publicly present their emissions reduction commitments.

“There are growing expectations by investors, regulators, supply chains and customers for greater accountability and transparency around how companies are addressing climate-related risks,” he said.

“The CERT report is a practical way to help companies showcase their achievements … Companies that participate in the CERT report will be viewed as leading the way.”

The latest quarterly update of the National Greenhouse Gas Inventory showed emissions for the year were estimated to be 498.9 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent, down 2.1 per cent or 10.8 million tonnes on the previous year.

The biggest contribution to the fall was lower fugitive emissions (down 8.7 per cent), resulting from reduced gas flaring and a decline in coal production.

There were also ongoing reductions from the electricity sector (4.5 per cent) and lower transport emissions (1.9 per cent), partly due to the impact of COVID-19 restrictions in capital cities.

But agriculture emissions were up almost 5 per cent as the farming sector recovered from the drought.

National emissions for the June quarter – just before extended COVID-19 lockdowns in Sydney and Melbourne – increased 1.9 per cent seasonally adjusted and 0.4 per cent in trend terms.

National emissions are estimated to be 500 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent in the year to the September quarter, a decrease of 0.7 per cent on the previous year.

Since their peak in the year to June 2007, Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions have declined by 22.8 per cent.

Emissions in the year to June 2021 were 20.4 per cent below for the year to June 2005 – the baseline used for Australia’s emission reduction target of 26 to 28 per cent by 2030.

Mr Taylor said the latest emissions data was driven by Australia’s world-leading deployment of solar and wind.

The Morrison government came under fire at the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow for not strengthening its 2030 target, only saying forecasts show carbon emissions were likely to be 30 to 35 per cent lower.

Australia, which along with most other advanced economies, did commit to net zero emissions by 2050 – has been asked to come back with stronger 2030 targets at next year’s COP meeting in Egypt.


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