Population growth resumed, and Australia’s carbon emissions stopped declining.
Australia’s population grew by 1.1% to about 26.0 million people during 2022. Population growth was the highest since 2019, mainly due to the return of overseas migration, but remained 9% below the 2000–2021 mean population growth rate. Building approvals provide a ready if imperfect measure of land and resource use for construction. Approvals in 2022 declined 17% from the sharp peak the preceding year and returned to a similar level as in 2019 and 2020. Approvals were still 3% above the 2000–2021 average. Greenhouse gas emissions remained almost identical to the previous year and were 2.2% below the 2000–2021 average.
Compared to the previous year, emissions decreased in electricity generation (-3.7%) and transport (-1.0%) but remained unchanged for waste (0.0%) and industry (+0.2%) and increased for fugitives (3.4%), agriculture (+3.3%) and stationary energy (+3.1%). Emissions from stationary energy (including manufacturing, mining, residential and commercial fuel use) were the highest on record. Their increase alone nearly offsets emissions reductions achieved in electricity generation.
According to Government statistics, new forests exceeded forest removals, resulting in a net uptake of 39 Mt CO2 equivalents, nearly identical to the preceding 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.
Because of population growth, emissions per person fell 1.0% from the previous year to 20.2 tonnes CO2-eq, 23% below the peak of per-capita emissions around 2000–2005.
Australia is the world’s 14th highest emitter, contributing just over 1% of global emissions in 2022. However, emissions per person are among the highest globally due to high individual energy use, polluting coal, and large non-CO2 emissions. Australia’s emissions per individual were 2.8 times greater than those of the UK and more than seven times greater than India’s.