Australia will fall short of its 2030 emissions target without a major effort to move to a low-carbon model, the OECD has warned. Australia has made some progress replacing coal with natural gas and renewables in electricity generation but it remains one of the most carbon-intensive OECD countries and one of the few where greenhouse gas emissions have risen in the past decade.
The OECD’s thirdsays Australia needs to develop a long-term strategy that integrates energy and climate policies to support progress towards its commitment to reduce greenhouse emissions to 26-28% below 2005 levels by 2030.
Australia should consider pricing carbon emissions more effectively and doing more to integrate renewables into the electricity sector, it says.
Reliant on coal for two-thirds of its electricity, Australia has one of the highest levels of non-renewable energy use of advanced economies, with fossil fuel consumption still benefiting from government support.
Coal, oil and gas make up 93% of the overall energy mix compared to an OECD average of 80%. The share of renewables in electricity generation has risen to 16% but remains below the OECD average of 25%. Australia’s power sector – the country’s top emitting sector – is not subject to emission reduction constraints.
Recommendations in the review include that Australia:
- Implement a national integrated energy and climate policy framework for 2030 based on a low-emission development strategy for 2050, in line with the Paris Agreement.
- Bring energy taxes in line with environmental impacts of fuel use. This implies taxing fuels that are currently exempt and increasing rates that are too low.
- Extend road use pricing through distance-based and congestion charges.
- Fill gaps in data on the status and trends of species and ecosystems, and establish national biodiversity indicators to measure progress and identify priorities for action.
- Increase investment in biodiversity conservation ecological restoration in line with the scale of the challenge.
- Improve monitoring of water resources, abstraction and quality across river basins. Do more to address water pollution from agriculture.