Population growth halted and carbon emissions declined, primarily due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Australia’s population barely grew, remaining stable at 25.7 million. Population growth slowed to a record low of 34,000 primarily due to COVID-19 border closures. This is only a tenth of the average 2000–2020 rate of population increase.

Demand for building space and materials increased sharply. Building approvals for new dwellings increased by 23% from 2020 to achieve the highest number since 2016.

Greenhouse gas emissions decreased 1.9% from the previous year, due mainly to the impact of COVID-19. Emissions were 2.3% below the 2000–2020 average. 

Emissions decreased most strongly from fugitive gases (-5.0%) and electricity generation (-4.4%), and to a lesser extent from direction combustion (-1.9%) and transport (-1.2%), while emissions changed little from waste (-0.3%) and industry (+0.4%). Emissions increased in agriculture (+3.7%).

According to Government statistics, new forests exceeded forest removals, resulting in a net uptake of 24.5 Mt CO2-eq; very similar to the previous five years. This number only accounts for a small part of the landscape carbon balance and does not include net gains or losses related to weather conditions or bushfires, for example.

Emissions per person fell 2.1% from the previous year to 20.4 tonnes CO2-eq, 22% below the peak per-capita emissions reached between 2000–2005. 

Australia contributed 1.4% to global emissions in 2021, compared to 1.5% in 2020. However, per-capita emissions remain among the highest globally due to high individual energy use, the continued use of polluting coal, and large non-CO2 emissions.

Australian greenhouse gas emissions by category (ex. land cover change) (DAWE)