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The annual National Inventory Report, which provides in-depth information on how Australia measures and reports on emissions, has been submitted to the United Nations. 

The report covers Australia’s emissions estimates for the financial years 1990 to 2021 and is Australia’s – and the world’s – first National Inventory Report that meets the emissions reporting requirements of the Paris Agreement.

In 2021, Australia’s net greenhouse gas emissions were 464.8 million tonnes (Mt) of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO²-e). The energy sector continued to be the largest source of national emissions, while the land sector continued to be a net sink for emissions.

Australia’s net greenhouse gas emissions from all sectors were 464.8Mt of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO²-e) in 2020–21. This result shows emission reductions of:

  • 27.0 per cent (171.5 Mt CO²-e) from 636.3 Mt CO²-e in 1989–90
  • 24.6 per cent (151.5 Mt CO²-e) from 616.3 Mt CO²-e in 2004–05
  • 6.0 per cent (29.5 Mt CO²-e) from 494.2 Mt CO²-e in 2019–20

The Federal Government said the report is integral to Australia becoming a renewable energy superpower, ensuring transparency and accountability and giving policy certainty to trading partners and international investors.

Federal Minister for Climate Change and Energy, Chris Bowen, said this report reiterates the Government’s commitment to climate credibility.

“I welcome the release of the first National Inventory Report to ensure we are meeting our obligations under Paris and upholding the highest levels of transparency.

“One of our first acts in government was to reinvigorate the Climate Change Authority and deliver annual climate statements, to increase transparency of Australia’s climate challenges and opportunities.

“Being the first country to submit a Paris Agreement inventory underlines our commitment to deliver climate transparency, which will help Australia attract the investment needed to become a renewable energy superpower.”

The report also fulfils Australia’s greenhouse gas inventory reporting requirements under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Its data provides the basis for tracking progress towards Australia’s Paris Agreement emissions reduction targets.

The report provides estimates of Australia’s net greenhouse gas emissions for the period 1989–90 to 2020–21 for the energy, industrial processes and product use, agriculture, waste and the land use, land use change and forestry sectors (outlined below in Figure 1), in accordance with Paris Agreement requirements including Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change emission estimation guidelines.

Figure 1: Greenhouse gas emissions by sector, Australia, 1989–90 to 2020–21 (Mt CO²-e )

Updated emission estimation methods were applied to the energy, waste and land sectors. These improvements will be incorporated into the upcoming Quarterly Update of the National Greenhouse Gas Inventory for the year to December 2022, scheduled for release at the end of May.

The information in the report will be subject to independent technical review by the UN, keeping Australia accountable for the quality of emissions estimates reported to the global community as well as broader action on climate change.

Emissions data from the report are published in an interactive online database, Australia’s National Greenhouse Accounts (ANGA). ANGA allows users to download and interrogate historical and projected emissions estimates. It includes the full suite of National Greenhouse Accounts, providing additional information on Australia’s regional, industry and gas (raw and CO²-e) emissions.

The report forms part of the National Greenhouse Accounts 2021. In the coming weeks the remaining elements of the accounts will be published; the State and Territory Greenhouse Gas Inventories 2021 and National Inventory by Economic Sector 2021, which disaggregate the National Inventory Report by jurisdiction and economic sector respectively.

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