In a keynote address to the Australian Clean Energy Summit, the Climate Change and Energy Minister announced the Australian Government will develop sectoral plans based on Climate Change Authority decarbonisation pathways. 

‘Developing sectoral pathways is the right approach to take,’ said Australia Country lead Anna Malos.

‘Climateworks Centre’s whole-of-economy decarbonisation pathways, published in 2014 and 2020, consistently showed two things,’ Ms Malos said. ‘All sectors have opportunities for cost-effective emissions reductions, and a focus on energy is the most cost-efficient way of cutting emissions – such as improving energy efficiency, electrification, installing more renewables and matching demand to supply.’

‘Our more recent work with industry and investors has shown us another important aspect of producing sectoral plans – they create confidence that attracts investment and ensures it is being spent effectively.’

Minister Chris Bowen said decarbonisation plans would be developed for sectors including electricity and energy, industry (including waste), the built environment, agriculture and land, transport and resources, with circular economy considered in all. These plans would be based on sectoral pathways, currently being developed by the Climate Change Authority. 

‘Climateworks and CSIRO released the Pathways to industrial decarbonisation report in February this year. Our industry sectoral pathways showed Australia had the technologies to achieve over 90 per cent emissions reduction in all the supply chains studied – while increasing production in all of them except LNG,’ said Ms Malos.

‘The power of sectoral pathways is in their ability to focus collective effort on the highest value actions. In the case of industry, we could show our industry participants and government that prioritisation of renewable electrification of mine sites and processes, utilising green hydrogen as a feedstock and fuel for processes that can’t be electrified, and prioritisation of research and development and new technologies would accelerate emission reductions in industry.’

Decarbonisation pathways are crucial for laying the pathway for emission reductions in other sectors too, particularly ahead of Australia increasing its national emissions reduction targets for 2035. 

‘In a recent submission to the Climate Change Authority, Climateworks advised that acting early is more cost-effective, and we recommended aiming for 1.5 degrees Celsius. And that is before considering the benefits of avoiding climate harm, or the health benefits for workers and residents,’ said Climateworks Policy Manager Emma Peterson. 

‘Climateworks’ 1.5 degree and 2 degree decarbonisation pathways published in Decarbonisation Futures detailed the trajectory of emissions reductions for buildings, transport, industry, land-use and electricity – which all show rapid decarbonisation by 2030, and ultimately net zero.’

Australian governments can achieve net zero in line with the 1.5°C temperature limit  

‘Ensuring that Australia’s economic system can rapidly and successfully transform to maximise the opportunities and address challenges will be complex,’ said Ms Malos. 

‘Australia has a chance to ensure that the long-term strategy to achieve net zero emissions includes establishing the overarching architecture (governance, institutions, information systems and policies) to drive the necessary transformation of the Australian economy.

‘We recommend the Australian Government’s 2035 emissions target be aligned to limiting global warming to 1.5°C,’ she said. 

Climateworks and CSIRO have produced sectoral pathways for the Australian Energy Market Operator and Transgrid, including some of the first 1.5°C-aligned climate scenarios to support electricity system planning in Australia.

Climateworks is currently developing sectoral pathways for the land-use, transport, infrastructure and building sectors. 

‘Australia has major opportunities in a net zero global economy from its renewable energy and mineral resources if we focus on the end goal of a vibrant net zero economy, in line with a 1.5°C limit,’ said Ms Peterson.

‘Key to this will be providing agencies and stakeholders with credible pathways to this goal.’