The year is 2060, and what does Australia look like? Have we harnessed social, economic and environmental opportunities? Or are we in a slow decline?

In 2019 CSIRO partnered with NAB, Climateworks and more than 20 other organisations from business and civil society to develop the Australian National Outlook 2019. The aim of the report is to identify the challenges and opportunity we face as a nation. It outlines a path towards an Australia in 2060 that has inclusive communities, globally competitive industries, and sustainable foundations in our natural resources, environment and social capital.

The report shows that Australia is at a crossroads. We face the prospect of a prosperous, inclusive and sustainable future – an outlook vision, or, if we maintain business as usual, a slow decline. The report identified six core challenges facing the nation.

  • the rise of Asia
  • technological change
  • climate change and environment
  • demographics
  • trust
  • social cohesion.

Partners then identified five key key shifts to deliver a more prosperous Australia. Industry, urban, energy, land and culture shifts that would set the path towards a better future for all Australians. Climateworks research focused on two key areas, energy and land.

Our research found transitioning to low-emissions electricity, improving energy productivity, and developing new energy exports could result in an outlook vision where:

  • Renewables account for 25-37% of total primary energy use, including almost 100% of electricity generation
  • Total energy consumption increases by only 6%, despite population growth of more than 60%
  • Households spend between 58-64% less on electricity, relative to incomes.
  • Under a cooperative global context Australia hits net-zero emissions by 2050, and can go further to achieve negative emissions by 2060.

In the outlook vision Australia’s landscapes include a profitable and sustainable mix of food, fibre production, carbon sequestration and biodiversity.

By investing in productivity, capitalising on emerging markets and restoring ecosystem health, the outlook vision would see:

  • Returns to landholders of up to $114 billion (more than doubling the slow decline model)
  • Carbon plantings could offset up to 700 MtCO2e of emissions by 2060
  • Long term conservation of Australia’s valuable natural assets through reforestation and land remediation.

“This process of putting together business, civil society and research does show that there can be common agreement found, and the more alignment we can get around these plans the more effective we can be to ensure we’re all on that right path.”

Rob Kelly, Programs Manager

The report aims to kick-start a conversation on Australia’s future, and the nation we could create as a collective.

You can access the full Australian National Outlook report via the CSIRO website.