Australia's Emissions Targets

So with all the climate talk going on at the moment, and ScoMo assuring everyone that we’ll have no problem hitting our targets, I figured I’d go look at the actual data to see what we’re committed to and how we are doing.


Signed in 1997 and then not ratified by Howard. Eventually ratified by Rudd in 2007.

Kyoto Commitment 1: 108% of 1990 emissions, by 2012
Yes, that’s right. We didn’t commit to decreasing our emissions, only to limit their increase. However, in 1997, our emissions were already at 83% of 1990 levels, so we really committed to increase our emissions by at most 30% at time of signing. When Rudd came to power in 2008 we had already increased our emissions by 25% since signing, but by 2012 we’d reduced this back down to a 12% increase.

Result: 12% increase in emissions since signing Kyoto, 8% reduction in emissions since 1990. Target met.

So, how did we hit our target? Well emissions are broken into 5 categories: Energy, Industry, Agriculture, Land Use and Waste. Energy is BY FAR the biggest, accounting for 82% of emissions in 2017.

From 1997 to 2012…
- Energy up 25%
- Industry up 33%
- Agriculture down 4%
- Land Use down 66%
- Waste down 23%

Basically we made no effort to reduce overall emissions from our economy, we just reduced land clearing.

Kyoto Commitment 2: 95% of 2000 emissions, by 2020.
We need to get to 509Gt CO2e by 2020. We are currently at 538Gt (2018) which has been increasing since a low of 530Gt in 2016 and continues to increase in 2019. ScoMo says we’ll meet this in a canter, but it’s not supported by the data.

Paris Accord

Signed in 2016, ratified in 2016.

Paris Commitment: 26-28% reduction from 2005 emissions, by 2030.
Our target is 445Gt and we’re at 538Gt at the moment. We need to reduce our emissions by 17% in the next 12 years.

Again, our emissions are increasing and the only time we’ve ever reduced emissions from the Energy sector is while the carbon tax was in place (July 2012 - July 2014).

I’ve no idea how we’re going to meet our Paris target with our current policies.

Historical CO2 emissions for Australia

Note: all emission figures taken from our official reporting system AGEIS: