Skip navigation

Joint Submission: Setting, tracking and achieving Australia’s emissions reduction targets

Members engaged in the Climate Change Authority's consultation to share insights on setting, tracking and achieving Australia's emission targets under the Paris Agreement. 

We invite you to read our submission and consider how we can shape Australia's climate policy through ongoing dialogue and collaboration.

7 July 2023

Dear Climate Change Authority,

We, at Better Futures Australia, an alliance of non-state actors representing over seven million Australians, welcome the opportunity to contribute to the Authority’s advice to the government for decarbonising Australia’s economy. We're working together to make Australia's move towards a climate-resilient, prosperous and zero-emissions future happen faster, a mission underscored by the Climate Change Authority’s 2022 Annual Progress Report:

“Reducing emissions and preparing for a changing climate are whole-of-economy and whole-of-society issues that cut across federal, state and territory, and local government responsibilities, alongside corporate action. A new era of Commonwealth, state and territory, and local government cooperation can support more effective, integrated policy responses, avoid unnecessary duplication and regulation, and lower costs for businesses and households.”

We welcome recent Australian Government climate policy advancements, such as updates to our Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC), the introduction of the Climate Change Act 2022, reforms to the Safeguard Mechanism, and federal budget allocations towards renewable energy and climate change solutions. Nevertheless, we acknowledge the remaining challenges, particularly the urgent need for credible targets and accountability as Australia’s public and private sectors join the global race for climate change and biodiversity leadership. Therefore, we believe the Authority's initiative to review Australia’s key climate change policy and regulatory frameworks is both timely and necessary.

Our perspectives and recommendations in response to the Authority's issues paper are informed by our collaborative, sector-focused working groups. Close to three years of broad engagement across sectors and communities has shaped ideas and suggestions for how Australia should approach creating zero emissions and better futures for us all. We wish to note that some participating organisations have provided additional detail on points raised below in separate submissions.



Strategic Framework

A prosperous and resilient zero emissions future can be achieved by investing in research, modelling and engagement to maintain social licence and help all Australians to understand climate change impacts, develop resilience, and innovate zero-emissions solutions. Priorities should include community-based climate adaptation, resilience building solutions, and creating an ecosystem of renewable energy industrial precincts. We see the six actions and six enablers outlined in the Issues Paper as important and suggest additional considerations to help Australia move towards a zero emissions future, including:

Governance for 1.5: Achieving the 1.5 degree goal of the Paris Agreement requires strong and effective governance at all levels, incorporating inclusive planning and minimising environmental and social impacts. We recommend that the strategic framework emphasise the need for governance structures that align with this goal, including federal leadership to align climate policy across all government levels. Inclusive planning is crucial to ensure decision-making processes reflect the diverse needs and perspectives of all Australians, thereby ensuring equitable distribution of climate action benefits while minimising environmental and social impacts.

Comprehensive Climate Policy Framework: Currently, local climate action is stunted by the lack of coordinated state and federal climate policies. Federal government leadership is needed to align all levels of government on climate policy, and to guide private sector ambition. For example, establishing a comprehensive climate policy framework that integrates all levels of government and recognises local government and regional contributions in the Australian NDCs would address implementation gaps and improve accountability and transparency across Australia’s national policies and strategies. This would enable all levels of government to seize the opportunities and challenges climate change presents, and give councils on the frontline of climate change a seat at the table when policies and investments are being planned and delivered. The Cities Power Partnership and University of Melbourne’s Melbourne Centre for Cities’ local government report, "Many Hands Make Light Work: Connecting Governments to Accelerate Climate Action,” draws on the work of Better Futures Australia’s local government working group and outlines practical suggestions for boosting climate efforts.

Indigenous Knowledge: Recognising and incorporating Indigenous knowledge and perspectives in climate action can enhance Australia's resilience and contribute to emissions reduction. For example, traditional Indigenous land management practices, such as controlled burning, have been shown to be effective in sequestering carbon, enhancing biodiversity, and reducing the risk of wildfires. These practices should be supported and integrated into Australia's climate strategy. Crucially, the integration of Indigenous knowledge and practices must be done in a way that respects the rights of Indigenous communities. This includes ensuring free, prior, and informed consent of First Nations people and communities in all decisions that affect them.

Nature, Biodiversity and Carbon Drawdown: Protecting and restoring Australia's unique ecosystems is crucial for both mitigation and adaptation. Beyond reducing emissions, we must also focus on drawing down carbon from the atmosphere. Nature-based solutions (NbS, such as forest protection and wetland restoration, can provide a cost-effective way to sequester carbon while also offering other environmental and social benefits. We recommend that carbon drawdown be explicitly included as an action in the strategic framework. The government should support the development and implementation of NbS, and ensure that these solutions are integrated into Australia's climate strategy. We note that NbS should not be used as a way for emitters to avoid actual emissions reductions.

Research and Development: To innovate effective climate solutions, ongoing research and development is crucial. This should be recognised as a key enabler in the strategic framework. Both public and private investment in research and development can lead to breakthroughs in low-carbon technologies and practices, accelerating our progress towards a zero-emissions future.

Renewable Exports Strategy: Developing a national renewable exports strategy is crucial to seize new economic opportunities and strengthen Australia's international competitiveness in clean energy technologies. The strategic framework should involve identifying potential export markets for Australian renewable energy technologies and services, and developing policies and initiatives to support these exports. By focusing on the enablers of information, markets, and investment, Australia can become a leading exporter of renewable energy solutions, fostering economic growth and job creation, whilst contributing to global emissions reduction.

Zero Emission Transport Strategy: To accelerate the decarbonisation of the transport sector, a comprehensive zero-emission transport strategy is needed. This strategy should prioritise actions such as increasing funding for active and public transport infrastructure, promoting the adoption of electric vehicles, and incentivising sustainable transport options. By implementing these actions and leveraging the enablers of rules and planning, Australia can reduce emissions from the transport sector and improve air quality while creating a more sustainable and efficient transportation system.

The National Health and Climate Strategy: Protecting the health of all people living in Australia from the impacts of climate change and seizing health opportunities from climate mitigation and adaptation actions is essential. A Health in All Policies (HiAP), whole-of-government approach to the National Health and Climate Strategy will provide a framework for addressing the health risks associated with climate change and promoting climate-resilient healthcare systems. The overall focus of the Strategy must be strongly directed towards reducing the current risks to population health from climate change, and to maximise the health co-benefits of carefully designed climate mitigation and adaptation actions. The framework should involve measures to monitor and address the health impacts of climate change, promote healthy and sustainable behaviours, and build resilience into sectors and communities.

Role of the Climate Change Authority (CCA): The CCA plays a pivotal role in providing robust policy advice, tracking emissions reductions, overseeing policy impact, and advising on priority areas for supporting legal and technical cooperation, capacity building, and knowledge sharing efforts. We propose that the CCA play a more active role in promoting transparency, accountability, and effective climate action. This includes providing independent data tracking of emissions reductions, policy impact, and projections against the Australian Government’s targets; which is crucial for actively measuring and evaluating Australia's progress towards its climate goals. The CCA should also explore how National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting (NGER) data can support forthcoming domestic and international requirements for disclosure and transition planning to avoid duplication. Importantly, we believe that the work of the CCA should be conducted with the highest degree of transparency. All data, methodologies, and findings should be made publicly available to ensure accountability and foster public trust in the CCA's role in guiding Australia's climate action. By leveraging the enablers of information and interventional engagement, the CCA can significantly enhance its role in promoting effective climate action.

Progress Framework

What more could the Government do to help you reduce your carbon footprint?

The government can play a pivotal role in providing resources, such as training programs on low-carbon technologies and information resources on climate change and the net zero transition. Additionally, the government can regulate corporate action and disclosure, requiring corporations to align their operations with a 1.5C pathway and disclose their emissions. This will ensure accountability and transparency in climate-related claims across the economy, helping individuals and businesses make informed decisions about their carbon footprints. One sector that requires specific attention is agriculture, a significant contributor to global greenhouse gas emissions. The CCA should recommend that the government support the development of pathways for the agricultural and land use sector to understand the contribution of nature, biodiversity, and different solutions to achieving net zero emissions.

How are you and the people around you impacted by or preparing for the net zero transition and Australia’s climate future?

The transition to a net zero economy presents both challenges and opportunities. For businesses, this transition means aligning operations with a 1.5C pathway and reducing emissions. Communities are directly impacted by the transition and climate change through costs related to climate impacts, resilience building and the energy transition. It is crucial to recognise that the transition must be led by strong government action and corporate responsibility, with individuals supported to make sustainable choices within a system that prioritises and facilitates such choices. The mental health implications also need to be considered, as the Climate Council's research shows that climate change can exacerbate mental health issues.

How can governments better support you to prepare for or respond to the impacts?

Governments can support preparation and response to the impacts of the net zero transition by providing resources and support, such as training programs and educational resources to help individuals and businesses understand the importance of reducing their carbon footprints and how they can take action. Governments can also support local councils and communities to develop tools and frameworks to assess climate change vulnerability and prioritise resilience building, and by providing funding and resources for developing and implementing climate action plans and projects. They can also regulate corporate action and disclosure to ensure accountability and transparency. Governments can also support the development of sectoral pathways, such as for heavy industry and the agricultural and land use sector, to understand the contribution of different solutions to achieving net zero emissions and any social and environmental implications.

What should the Authority measure or assess to determine progress towards a just transition and improved wellbeing?

The Authority should measure progress towards emissions reduction targets and the role of the CCA in promoting transparency and accountability. It should also consider the mental health implications of climate change. Additionally, the Authority should assess the effectiveness of government regulations and collective action in driving emissions reductions and climate resilience.

What are the other challenges and opportunities the global context presents Australia with in responding to climate change?

The global context presents opportunities for Australia to learn from international best practices and replicate them with regional and local relevance. The shift towards a clean economy presents opportunities for Australia to leverage its renewable energy potential and reserves of critical minerals. However, it also presents challenges, such as the need to phase out fossil fuels (including subsidies) and increase financial contributions towards loss and damage funds.

What role is there for corporate action to 2030 and beyond?

Corporate action will be a key part of meeting Australia’s national emissions reduction targets. Corporations should be required to disclose their emissions and align their operations with a 1.5C pathway. They should also be encouraged to set ambitious emissions reduction targets and develop credible transition plans. By taking steps to address their supply chains and Scope 3 emissions, large enterprises can also support Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) by providing resources and capacity building, and setting expectations for emissions reductions. This can help drive emissions reductions across the entire value chain and accelerate the transition to a net zero economy. This approach will ensure corporations are not only accountable for their emissions but also actively participating in the national effort to reduce emissions.

When is it appropriate for the Government to regulate something?

Government regulation is necessary to provide the frameworks and rules needed to achieve our emissions reduction goals, ensure interoperability, alignment and accountability, create a ‘level playing field’ through setting standards, and phase out activities that are incompatible with emission reduction targets. For example, regulating the offset market to ensure integrity, including setting clear rules and standards for offset creation and use. Users of offsets should be required to demonstrate that their use of offsets is part of a broader strategy to reduce emissions and align with a 1.5C pathway. Protections are needed to ensure the integrity of carbon trading markets and exchange platforms include robust regulation, transparent reporting, independent auditing, and mechanisms to prevent fraud and manipulation.

Target-setting Framework

How could the Authority best strike a balance between ambition, domestic considerations and the international context in its 2023 NDC advice?

The Authority should prioritise providing independent, non-political advice based on the best available climate science, the scale of action required to protect communities and ecosystems, Australia’s obligations under the Paris Agreement, and Australia’s unique national circumstances and opportunities for climate solutions. This approach aligns with the principles of environmental effectiveness, public interest, and supporting the development of an effective global response to climate change, as outlined in the Climate Change Authority Act 2011. The Authority should also consider:

  • Providing transparent scientific justification for its recommendations, demonstrating how any advised targets align with the global carbon budget needed to remain below 1.5 degrees of global warming. This would ensure that the targets are grounded in the best available science and are consistent with the global effort to limit warming to as close to 1.5 degrees.
  • Australia's high cumulative and per-capita emissions, its economic strength, and its potential for renewable energy. These factors underscore Australia's responsibility and capacity to take strong action on climate change, aligning with the principles of equity and consistency with Australia’s foreign policy and trade objectives.
  • Using sector-specific targets and indicators to track progress and provide further signals to the market. This could include a hierarchy of targets and indicators, with whole-of-economy targets legislated for high certainty, and sectoral indicators used for tracking progress and trajectories. This would take into account the impact on households, businesses, workers, and communities, and boost economic, employment, and social benefits, including for rural and regional Australia.
  • Distinguishing between gross and net emissions reductions, prioritising genuine emissions reductions over offsets and removals. This would ensure actual emissions are significantly reduced, aligning with the principle of economic efficiency.

What do you think Australia’s 2035 target should be and why?

Australia’s 2035 target should be net zero emissions, primarily achieved through absolute (gross) emissions reductions. This target aligns with the best available climate science and embodies the 'highest possible ambition' as noted in Article 4.1 of the Paris Agreement. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC) analysis suggests that a 40-50% reduction in global greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 (relative to 2010) is in line with limiting warming to 1.5°C with no or limited overshoot. This would require a significant increase in ambition from Australia's current 2030 target. Hence, a number of BFA partners recommend an interim target of 75% emissions reduction compared to 2005 levels by 2030, to be consistent with the Climate Target Panel’s 2021 report, the IPCC Special Report and the WWF commissioned 2023 report.

These targets should consider the domestic emission reduction potential and be transparent and less reliant on low-integrity solutions such as carbon offsets and carbon capture and storage. They should also reflect the principle of 'common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities' in the Paris Agreement; recognising that Australia, as a developed nation with high emissions and economic strength, has a responsibility to take on a larger share of the global emissions reduction task.

Immediate action is required across federal, state and territory, and local governments, alongside private sector collaboration to deliver on these Paris-aligned targets. The Authority should therefore update its advice on Australia’s 2030 targets and stress the need for immediate accelerated action to urgently correct Australia’s trajectory towards net zero emissions. This approach would align with the principles of economic efficiency, environmental effectiveness, and supporting the development of an effective global response to climate change.

Cross-cutting Issues

Leading Indicators of Progress Towards Net Zero Emissions

Leading indicators of progress towards net zero emissions should not only focus on the rate of emissions reduction, the rate of renewable energy deployment, the rate of energy efficiency improvements, and the level of investment in low-carbon technologies and industries, but also consider the following:

  • We propose tracking practical actions such as the electrification of transport, the decline in domestic and commercial gas use, changes in international demand for Australian fossil fuel exports, and investment in low- and zero-carbon solutions for high-emitting industrial processes.
  • Tracking the scheduled closure dates for coal and gas fired power plants could serve as a valuable indicator of progress, as it directly relates to the transition to a renewable powered economy.
  • We recommend a hierarchy of targets and indicators, with whole-of-economy targets legislated for high certainty, and sectoral indicators used for tracking progress and trajectories. This approach would provide a more comprehensive and nuanced framework for tracking progress towards net zero emissions.
  • Changes in land use, such as the amount of land restored for carbon drawdown and shifts from livestock grazing to other purposes, should also be tracked as they directly relate to the role of land use in sequestering carbon and reducing emissions.
  • We suggest looking beyond numerical emissions indicators to consider factors such as political will, voter sentiment, domestic market confidence, and international trade trends. This would provide a more holistic view of the factors influencing progress towards net zero emissions.
  • To ensure transparency and clarity in tracking progress towards net zero emissions, we recommend separating the reporting of emissions reductions from emissions sequestered or offset. This also reinforces the need for an independent auditor.

Leading Indicators of Progress Towards Preparing for and Adapting to Climate Change

In addition to the extent of climate risk assessments conducted, the number of climate adaptation plans developed and implemented, and the level of investment in climate-resilient infrastructure, we propose the following:

  • Aligning sustainable finance approaches with key investment and regional partners. This would emphasise the role of finance in driving the transition to a low-carbon economy and preparing for climate change.
  • Aligning with wellbeing indicators outlined in the Commonwealth Measuring What Matters Framework. Tracking the ‘success’ of community-based climate change adaptation, mitigation and resilience building solutions must capture the day to day lived experience of all people living in Australia. The Framework provides a more comprehensive view of how communities are adapting to climate change, and whether public policy is supporting communities to be not only resilient, but thriving, in the context of climate change.
  • Tracking the support provided to workers and communities currently dependent on high-emitting industries to ensure they are supported to transition to new, sustainable jobs and industries. This would provide a more holistic view of the social impacts of the transition to a low-carbon economy. Refer to Climateworks Centre's submission to "Measuring what matters" for further insights on this matter.

Sectoral pathways

Factors to consider when developing sectoral decarbonisation pathways

When developing sectoral decarbonisation pathways, the Authority should consider the specific characteristics and emissions profiles of different sectors, as well as the interdependencies between sectors. We propose the following additional considerations:

  • Sectoral pathways should aim to achieve the maximum possible abatement for each sector. This means prioritising sectors where mature decarbonisation technologies already exist, such as energy, transport, and the built environment.
  • The unique challenges and opportunities in each sector, including technological feasibility, economic implications, environmental impacts, job creation potential, and social equity issues. This includes considering the potential for innovation and technological advancement in each sector and across sectors.
  • Developing an information architecture and guidance for all emitters to support the development of verifiable and trusted data. This includes creating the design of the data architecture and systems needed to calculate Scope 3 emissions.
  • We recommend a hierarchy of targets and indicators, with whole-of-economy targets legislated for high certainty, and sectoral indicators used for tracking progress and trajectories. This approach would provide a more comprehensive and nuanced framework for tracking progress towards net zero emissions.

Risks and Opportunities for Households, Business, Workers and Communities

The transition to a low-carbon economy presents both risks and opportunities for households, businesses, workers, and communities. Risks include the potential for job losses in high-emitting industries, increased costs associated with low-carbon technologies, and supply chain disruptions. However, these risks can be mitigated through careful planning, targeted support, and investment in new, sustainable industries.

Opportunities include job creation in renewable energy and other low-carbon industries, improved public health due to reduced air pollution, and the potential for Australian businesses to become leaders in low-carbon technologies and services. The Authority should consider these risks and opportunities when developing sectoral decarbonisation pathways.

Role for Government

The government plays a crucial role in reducing these risks and assisting households, businesses, workers, and communities to realise the opportunities of the transition. This includes:

  • Providing incentives, such as for home upgrades, implementing strong fuel efficiency standards, and developing a Zero Emission Transport Strategy.
  • Ensuring a just transition that supports workers and communities affected by the transition, with the support of the Net Zero Authority. This includes considering the impacts on workers and communities currently dependent on high-emitting industries and ensuring they are supported in their transition to new, sustainable jobs and industries.
  • Increasing education and awareness about climate change to drive behaviour change and build support for necessary policy measures.
  • Supporting corporate action in achieving emissions reduction targets. This includes mandatory climate disclosures, defining credible pathways at the sectoral level, and assisting corporates in the transition.
  • Implementing regulations that provide necessary frameworks and rules to achieve the goal of net zero emissions. This includes enacting legislation for emission reduction targets and sectoral or technology-specific targets. Such measures would instil both market and community confidence and facilitate informed decision making, strategic planning, innovation, investment, and workforce development necessary to meet this goal.

Contributing beyond Australia’s borders

What are the most important things to consider when assessing the adequacy of a country’s NDC?

It is essential to prioritise climate science when assessing the adequacy of a country's NDC. The targets set should be based on the latest scientific findings and align with the Paris Agreement's requirement for the "highest possible ambition." Australia, in particular, should set ambitious NDCs that reflect its potential role as a future co-host of United Nations (UN) climate negotiations and its responsibility as a significant global emitter. The NDC should also include concrete plans for climate change adaptation and resilience building, commitments to international climate finance, and commitments to supporting vulnerable communities in addressing loss and damage from climate change. Local and Regional Contributions, along with Corporate Determined Contributions, should also be considered to track and promote economy-wide progress towards Australia’s NDC.

How could Australia partner with other nations to accelerate global progress towards meeting the Paris Agreement goals?

Australia can accelerate global progress towards meeting the Paris Agreement goals by forming strong partnerships with other nations. This includes deepening relationships with fast-growing economies like India and Indonesia, which are key players in the global decarbonisation effort. Australia should also work closely and partner with Pacific Island Countries, leveraging their significant influence over international climate negotiations to drive an ambitious agenda. Additionally, Australia should actively contribute to global progress by sharing expertise and supporting developing countries through capacity building, including facilitating research collaborations and the transfer of clean energy technologies and climate finance (concessional finance and the loss and damage fund). This involves Australia taking a role to not just facilitate increased and innovative finance, but to ensure that modalities are fit-for-purpose, accessible, and additional to existing adaptation funds; particularly in the Pacific Region., Australia should also explore innovative finance mechanisms that draw on the OECD's agreement to expand export credit support for climate-friendly and green projects to support the global transition to a zero-emissions future.

What do you see as the challenges and opportunities from a phase out of fossil fuel production? What should the Government consider when determining a plan for the phase out of fossil fuels?

The phase-out of fossil fuel production is essential to meeting Australia’s commitments under the Paris Climate Agreement. It presents both challenges and opportunities. On one hand, it requires careful planning and policy development to manage the economic and social impacts. The government should consider a just transition that supports affected communities and workers, and invests in renewable energy and other low-carbon industries. On the other hand, the phase-out presents a significant opportunity for Australia to meet globally agreed emissions targets and reduce its outsized contribution to global climate change. Ember Climate research highlights the need to address Australia's coal mine methane problem. It also opens up the potential for Australia to become a clean energy powerhouse, driving investment and job creation at a scale comparable to the recent mining boom and the forecasted critical minerals mining boom. The government should also consider the risk of new and expanded fossil fuel projects becoming stranded assets as international demand for fossil fuels shrinks in the coming decades. As highlighted by Living Wonders, the environmental impacts of coal and gas are significant, and we recommend a strategic and planned phase-out of fossil fuel production for Australia.

Should the Authority consider international maritime and aviation emissions in its advice?

Yes, the Authority should consider international maritime and aviation emissions in its advice. Australia has a substantial contribution to these emissions and should be a good faith player in international efforts to address them. This includes taking into account Australia's role as a large fossil fuel exporter and the emissions associated with this export. The Authority's advice should reflect a comprehensive view of all sources of emissions in Australia's climate action plans.

Preparing for change

What risks and opportunities do you face as the world decarbonises and as Australia responds to the impacts of climate change?

As the world decarbonises, there are significant risks and opportunities that households, businesses, workers, and communities face. The most immediate risk is the potential job loss in industries reliant on fossil fuels. However, this risk also presents opportunities for job creation in renewable energy, energy efficiency, and climate resilience sectors. Australia, with its abundant renewable resources, has the potential to become a global leader in clean energy. This transition could lead to increased energy security, health benefits from reduced air pollution, and new economic opportunities. However, achieving this requires ambitious targets and a clear roadmap. We suggest that Australia should aim for a 1.5-degree-aligned scenario, based on the latest scientific findings, reaching net zero by 2035.

What could governments do to help?

Governments have a crucial role to play in this transition. They should be mission-driven, focused on the end goal, and establish and maintain the information, governance, and policy architecture necessary to support the transition. This includes leading, planning, enabling, and facilitating collaboration across different sectors of the economy. In particular, sector-specific strategies, such as a Zero Emissions Transport Strategy, should be developed to achieve maximum emissions reductions as rapidly as possible.
As we navigate this transition, it is essential to ensure that no communities, and in particular, vulnerable people are left behind. Governments should provide support to regional communities, First Nations communities, and households to ensure they are not unfairly disadvantaged by the transition, but rather, play a key part in the decarbonisation journey. This could include retraining and skills development programs, as well as policies to protect these communities from the impacts of climate change.
To maintain integrity and trust in the system, an independent verification process is necessary. We suggest that an independent body such as the Climate Change Authority or a well-resourced Net Zero Authority could fulfil this role, tracking emissions reductions, policy impact, and projections against targets.
Finally, as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Sixth Assessment report has called for an “immediate” phase out of fossil fuels this decade, we recommend that the Authority conduct its own independent research on the phase out of fossil fuels in Australia. This research should consider the pace and timescale of the phase out and the long-term cost-benefit analysis of these parameters. With clear policy signals, ambitious targets, and adequate support for affected communities, the Australian Government can navigate this transition successfully and emerge as a global leader in clean energy and climate solutions.


What types of targets do you see as important and/or problematic, and why?

We recognise the importance of setting ambitious, science-based targets to drive emission reductions and mitigate the economic costs of climate inaction. We recommend a 75% annual emissions reduction by 2030 compared to 2005 levels and reaching net zero well before 2050, ideally by 2038 to align with keeping the global temperature rise below 1.5 degrees Celsius.
In addition to economy-wide targets, we see sector-specific and regional targets as important. These targets provide a clear signal to the market about which parts of the economy need to move first and farthest, and highlight the interdependencies. For example, renewable energy targets for the electricity sector, a zero-carbon building code for residential and commercial buildings by 2030, and fuel efficiency standards reaching 0g.CO2 by 2035 could all be considered.

We also see the inclusion of targets for international Scope 3 emissions as important; focusing on reducing the sources of these emissions, such as fossil fuel production and exports. This approach would bring greater visibility to Australia’s overall contribution to global emissions and our potential to support global decarbonisation efforts. Members of the BFA community also believe that it is crucial that Australia sets targets for climate finance, including separate allocations for mitigation, adaptation, and loss and damage. This would ensure that Australia is providing its fair share of assistance to developing countries in building clean economies and adapting to the impacts of climate change.

Problematic targets include those conditional targets and net emissions reductions targets that heavily rely on future technologies or offsets. These could detract from immediate emission reduction efforts and do not take into account the best available scientific evidence. Instead, we encourage the use of targets that focus on genuine emissions reductions, with minimal reliance on offsets.

With a combination of ambitious, science-based targets and a clear roadmap, Australia can successfully navigate this transition and emerge as a global leader in clean energy.

Are Kyoto-era schemes fit for the Paris Agreement era?

Kyoto-era schemes need to be updated and expanded to meet the challenges and opportunities of the Paris Agreement era. The National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting scheme (NGERs) has provided Australia with an effective base for reporting from our biggest emitting entities. However, we believe it could be improved by exploring how NGERs data can support the forthcoming domestic and international requirements for disclosure and transition planning and avoid duplication. This could include expanding the reporting to cover Scope 3 and including a breakdown of emissions from high emissions exported goods. Greater availability of NGERs data should also be considered to increase transparency.

While the Carbon Farming Initiative (CFI) and Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF) have provided important mechanisms for incentivising emissions reductions, there are concerns about the integrity of offsets and the need for critical reflection on how they are financed. It is the view of BFA members that international carbon markets should have a minimal role in meeting Australia’s emissions reduction goals, used only if and when options for domestic abatement have been exhausted.

We also note that reducing methane emissions is one of the most effective ways to limit warming in the near term and would like to see the Authority conduct independent research on methane measurement, reporting, and verification as part of the NGER review.

It is important that the federal government takes a leadership role in ensuring schemes are in place to deliver on the Paris Agreement's requirements and adequately address climate change. With robust and transparent reporting and verification of emissions reductions, we believe that Australia can successfully navigate the energy transition and emerge as a global leader in climate action.


The transition to a zero-emissions future is a complex and multifaceted challenge that requires a coordinated and comprehensive approach. We recognise the critical role of independent and science-based advice provided by the Authority to guide Australia's efforts to decarbonise its economy, and adapt and build a more climate resilient future.

We appreciate the opportunity to contribute to this important discussion. Every step towards emissions reduction is a much needed investment in a safer, better future. We eagerly anticipate continued engagement with the Authority and the Australian Government in the crucial work ahead.

Should you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact Better Futures Australia and its partners via the Program Director Lisa Cliff at [email protected] or 0429 998 315.

Better Futures Australia

July 07, 2023 at 5:00pm - July 08, 2023 (Melbourne time)