Reductions in GHG emissions are essential to minimise the amount of global warming and associated impacts. The projected efficacy of the various policies, programs and actions put in place by governments to meet emissions reduction targets can be summarised by emissions projections, which the Australian Government reports on approximately once per year.
The cumulative abatement challenge describes the gap between expected emissions and the cumulative emissions during 2013–20 allowed under our Kyoto 2020 target, calculated using protocols established under internationally agreed rules. Figure ATM26 shows Australia’s cumulative abatement challenge as projected over time and demonstrates that the challenge has fallen significantly since 2008. This long-term decline can be attributed to the Australian economy becoming less emissions intensive, the revision and improvement of international carbon accounting, and the updates to emissions outlooks.
Tracking to 2020—April 2016 update (DoE 2016) indicates that Australia is expected to surpass its 2020 target by 78 MtCO2-e. This follows from the projection released in March 2015, when the task was estimated as 236 MtCO2-e. The significant downwards revision in the task in those 12 months was the result of:
- factoring in emissions reductions expected from the RET, the ERF and the Waste Industry Protocol (EpE Working Group 2013)3
- an improved emissions outlook driven by slower than previously expected growth in the agriculture sector (because of ongoing poor seasonal conditions), the liquefied natural gas and coalmining industries (because of lower commodity prices), and land clearing.
Many of the factors that have contributed to the significant downwards revision in the cumulative abatement task are likely to change (e.g. growing seasons may improve; commodity prices may increase). Hence, the cumulative abatement task may be revised upwards in later projections. In addition, the significant debate about whether the ERF will be as effective as proposed by the Australian Government (discussed under Emissions Reduction Fund) also contributes to uncertainty around the cumulative abatement task presented in Tracking to 2020.