Australia On Track To Meet Paris Agreement 5 Years early

What will the Greens have to say now.


Optimism or a note of caution?

Another poor choice of headline from the ABC, open to misinterpretation.
It is not factual.
It is only one assessment.
It is not conclussive.
The forecast is highly speculative and requires many other conditions to be met along the way. More of a - “ we may have a cure if the following assumptions are later proven” moment?

The content of the ABC article is more balanced if you choose to read it and are familiar with the topic!

One data point in a long term and complex project does not make the ANU report a result. Given recent changes in the direction of the ANU there may be scope to consider if the ANU has changed for political advantage?

Accepting the report as is risks the government using the result to drop all involvement in the green energy future, and all subsidies. Further it might allow all other sectors to contunue to increase CO2 emissions without any need for reduction.

Importantly within the ABC report are two alternate assessments of Australia’s current status re green house gas reduction.

Advice that we are not on track.
And advice that there are many other actions necessary.

The 2018 Emissions Gap Report from the United Nations listed Australia as a G20 country that will not meet its 2030 target.

And secondly

Dr Sven Teske is a Research Director at the Institute for Sustainable Futures, at the University of Technology Sydney and said the research from ANU is a “positive take” on renewable energy in Australia at the moment.

“I would love to believe it,” he said.

"The problem is that we still have a few policy measures to implement to really keep up that pace and one of them is that we need a better regulation of how to connect new utility-scale solar and wind farm to the grid.
“Right now there is not really a standardised process in place to process all of those applications - we have applications for 40’000MW, but this does not mean that those power plants will actually be connected.”

A critical qualification relating to the ANU report:

Dr Teske said ANU’s research focussed on the energy market and not the entire sector.

“We also need to take into account our emissions and transport [and] if we want to electrify our transport system, we need to take into account that the electricity demand in Australia will roughly double,” he said.

“Even if we meet our, let’s say, 2025 or 2030 targets, we need a long term target and we don’t have long term energy policies in place right now.”


The Paris targets were very friendly, we did a “good” job of negotiating them down. We are coming off a high starting point, being a very high (per capita) emitting country.

This has nothing to say about the vast amounts of GHG fuel, coal and gas, that we export and will continue to export.

It comes down to whether you want to feel good about meeting a mickey mouse target or actually do something significant. So far the priority is to protect our foreign exchange earnings at the expense of all else.

On the positive side it seems the much vaunted hand of the free market is going to have significant effect here before our leaders get their act together. The private sector of the energy market saw the inevitable long before the pollies. On the negative side it’s a shame that it was 30 years late and said free market is not having such effect world wide. The world is still heading for over a 2 degree rise and the chance stopping it look smaller by the year.


As explained by @mark_m the assumptions used in the report are very weak. The idea that we will be 100% renewable energy by 2030 is at odds with the LNP Govt’s asserted reliance on coal till at least 2050. Remember the lump gleefully held up by the LNP in Parliament as part of that assertion? Next you have to have a framework that supports this move to 100% renewable and as yet we do not have one, even the Labor party do not have a policy that would see only renewable energy by that time.

Then the statement as aired on the ABC Drum that the report’s authors did not bother getting it peer reviewed is another concern because the data, methodology, conclusions and thus the veracity of the report have not been subject to scholarly and necessary critique. It has already had some severe criticism now leveled as to the assumptions that were used to derive the conclusions. The LNP Govt are already saying how good the report is but still hark on about their Coal fired vision of the future…


Even if we do achieve the Paris targets early, it may only be a short term political gain. There is potentially substantial long term pain ahead.

It is expected that electricity will be come the energy of choice in the later century and will be used for many purposes which currenty use fossils fuels as the fuel source.

It is possible that the per capita use of electricity may be many times that which currently exists. No current thought has been given to satisify this long term demand, only short term politics to achieve somewhat aspirational stort term Paris targets.

The challenge is while we may be able to achieve shome short term ‘political’ goals, the long term reliable generation will require many decades of planning, thought, research and development. All energy options need to be considered and balance given to those which can effectively meet future demands and its use profiles. If this is not done, abilIty to afford energy will redefine the socioeconomic classes in Australia and around the world.

Australia needs to stop focusiing on short term targets and looking to long term solutions which will provide us with reliable electricity security.


That does indeed seem probable. Quite apart from the generating sector, there’s transport and industrial processes. Refining iron without coal, for example, takes a lot of energy (though it has other advantages).

Actually, the issue has been contemplated intensively - just not by polticians.

Fortunately, we enjoy an embarrassment of riches.

According to Geoscience Australia, our solar resources could supply around 10,000 times our present electricity demand. A study by the University of Technology, Sydney, rates Australia’s onshore wind potential at twelve times current demand. An ANU study found pumped hydro potential, around 1,000 times what we’d need to smooth out the variations in all that renewable generation (if and when we go 100% renewable). That’s just two forms of generation and one form of storage.

We need political will to push past obstructionist vested interests and get on with the job.


Pumped storage is a good solution in many cases but many vested interests and contraians argue that the cost in terms of electricity needed to pump the water into storage is more times greater than the stored value. If the cost is more electricity what is the issue really if it is renewable energy that is the power that is used to pump it. It may cost more as a initial provision of panels, wind turbines and/or geo thermal energy but once they are in place the cost of the energy is very low in comparison to the cost of non renewable fuels such as coal, gas or oil (this is also taking into account the needed replacement as the assets age). Renewable energy supply also has a cost of pollution in the manufacture and replacement of old generation equipment but I would think that this is many times lower than the pollution that non renewable resources constantly add to the environment.

The water used does not need to be fresh/potable so coastal locations can be ideal for these power storage solutions. Why aren’t they being developed more and I think the answer lies in the cash benefit that the Govt and power businesses derive from this would be deflated against what they get for non renewable resources.


When I worked in the electricity generation industry 50 years ago, we were told of hydro power stations in the US which were only used during peak demand periods, and in the off-peak periods, the generators would be used to pump the water back up to the storage catchments.

The result was a nett overall loss of power but it met the needs for the vital peak demand times.

The article linked below states that almost all stored energy in the USA is supplied by pumped hydro whilst there were only 3 operational pumped hydro projects in operation in Australia.

There is one in the pipeline at the former goldmine site at Kidston south-west of Cairns where the company proposes to construct a 270 MW solar farm and a 250 MW pumped hydro facility utilising the two large water-filled pits left by the mine.

They also propose to have a 132 KV powerline constructed between Kidston and Townsville which is a bit of a mystery as Kidston Gold Mines had a 132 KV power line constructed between Townsville and Kidston in 1984, and it was proposed that the line would be extended to Weipa.

I cannot find any current information on it so perhaps it was dismantled when the mine closed or perhaps it does not have the capacity.


IIRC, pumped hydro is typically 75-80% efficient. Similar to batteries, but cheaper over the longer term. So yes, there is a cost.

Snowy 2.0 is called that because there’s a Snowy 1.0. The Snowy scheme has incorporated pumped hydro energy storage from the beginning. It was included to buffer inflexible coal generation.

Late last year, the NSW government published plans for pumped hydro incorporating existing water supply assets. Total capacity is more than twice that of Snowy 2.0.


An article regarding renewable energy now accounting for 20% of energy generation in Australia.



This was some of the data that was used to extrapolate the Australia meeting it’s target 5 years early. Great to see the uptake and better for the environment on many fronts but still a long way to go sadly. But we certainly can hope and work towards more uptake.


A graph of emissions over time courtesy ABC

The minimum was about 2014 and rates have risen since then. I would think, regardless of ‘targets’ we ought to see a steady trend downwards if we are actually doing any good.


Those who are interested on what the Paris Targets are and information on how Australia is tracking in relation to these targets, the information can be found on the Department of Environment and Energy website:


Interesting how the ABC are able to provide a graph showing increasing levels of CO2 emissions since 2012 and the Departments page as noted by @phb are only projections even for those years and we have not achieved those projections to my understanding and in fact the IPCC have stated Australia among others will not achieve the targets at current rising rates of emission.

A few more ABC articles on the matter of targets re emissions and our currently losing battle (indeed how we are not on track to meet the Paris Agreement):


The Greenhouse Gas Accounts are on a different page…

My understanding is these accounts are estimated based on the best available information provided by industry and using standard metrics.

The last account/inventory which has been prepared and published can be found here:

The accounts page also shows the following graph being the per capita eCO2 emissions.

The measure metric can be an issue as the per capita may be more important than gross/total emissions. As Australia is a net migration country (population is increasing as a direct result of immigration), it could potentially be argued that per capita is more important as CO2 emissions in effect are being transferred from one country to another.


It depends on your intent while using the various statistics available. If every country reduced its per capita emissions total emissions could still rise due to population growth and climate change would accelerate. I sometimes think the presentation of statistical targets is deliberately made obscure.

It isn’t only GHG but overall resource consumption that can grow through population or per capita increases, or both. If we don’t address the broader issue of unlimited growth the ability to dump burnt fuel by products into the atmosphere will be but the first of many major limitations to come our way. Oil, fresh water, rare metals, arable land and fossil fertilizer are just a few of many significant resources that will become short.

Step one would be to work out how to run economies so that they do not require endless exponential growth of resource consumption.

On the home front we fuel our economic growth with immigration. How long can that go on?


The 2030 GHG emissions targets and longer term targets are all for a reduction in TOTAL GHG Emissions.

Any thing else is just spin. The last two parliaments have played games with how the data and reports are presented. The real level of improvement or failure by Australia re Green House Gas levels is buried in the back of half of most of the reports that are required to be presented to the UN. They are worth reading further for anyone with a keen interest. Anything that is reported per capita or GDP should be ignored. The long term commitments required are absolute or total emissions irrespective of population and GDP effects.

The other factor to remove (there is data that excludes this one) is the measurement referred to as LULUCF. It is a ball pack estimate of the effect of land clearing on whether Australia’s bush and forests are increasing their ability to take up carbon or loosing the ability. The latter mainly due to land clearing or less for property development.


A good debunking overview…


The Aussie PM heading off to the G7 in Cornwall. The agenda includes Energy and Climate.

More than 2 years ago, when the previous Federal election was not even a twinkle in the eye of the EC.

The level of spin that Australia is on track and outperforming on all fronts. Whether the wise ones at the G7 are sold the same line as the Australian public, or choose to accept it we will soon find out.

To be prepared the following short read will help distinguish between fact and ‘Oh how great it is to be an Australian, PM’s spin’.

The short version.
There are many, many different ways of measuring emissions, and many different ways of defining ‘change’. You can count some greenhouse gases, or all of them. You can include the unreliable and shaky measurements of land use change, or not. You can define emissions as absolute, or per person (the current preferred fudging tactic for the Australian government).

In this text ‘fudge’ is not a delicious sugary sweet.
It’s likely to leave a most bitter taste on the least delicate of palates.

The most recent serving of ‘Fudge’, which I recollect @Drop_Bear also referenced in another topic. The previous analysis from Renew shows the truth in how we are not performing by global and domestic measures.



Sounds like “Smoke & Mirrors”, but is there a scientific analysis as to how the light from the mirrors offsets the pollution from the smoke?