MELBOURNE: Australia's greenhouse gas emissions fell 5.3% through March 2021 as coronavirus lockdowns cut traffic fumes and a surge in solar and wind power cut emissions from electricity generation, government data showed on Tuesday.
Australia's emissions fell from 521.9 million tonnes of CO2-e in March 2021 to 494.2 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2-e), the industry ministry said in a quarterly report.
“While much remains to be done, these data show that the government has taken extensive action to meet its emissions reduction commitments, encourage innovation and support new and emerging low-carbon technologies,” Energy Secretary Angus Taylor said in a statement.
Australia remains one of the world's largest per capita greenhouse gas emitters. The Conservative government is facing international pressure to step up its commitment to reducing emissions by 2030 ahead of the United Nations climate talks in Glasgow in November.
Under the Paris Agreement, Australia has pledged to cut emissions by 26-28% by 2030, while other nations, including the United States, Britain and Canada, have raised their targets and pledged to reduce emissions by 40% or more by 2030 to reduce 2030.
In March 2021, Australia's emissions were down almost 21% compared to 2005.
Emissions from the transport sector fell 13% in the year through March 2021 due to COVID-19 restrictions, the industry ministry report said.
Emissions from the electricity sector, the largest source of CO2 emissions, fell by 5.6% as wind and solar power generation skyrocketed, displacing some of the coal and gas-fired generation.
The latest figures came at the same time as the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) said that at the current speeds of wind and solar farm development, the national electricity market could have enough renewable energy in 2025 to meet 100% of consumer demand at certain times cover up.
This compares with recent records, when renewable electricity covered 57% of demand twice this year.
AEMO predicts that Australia's rooftop solar usage, which is already the highest in the world with one in four households with solar panels, will increase by 64% from current levels to 22.9 gigawatts by 2025.