Australia’s population grew rapidly and carbon emissions increased after falling for four years.

Australia’s population grew by 3.5% or more than 650,000 people to reach 27 million people by the end of 2023, a 41% increase since 2000. Population growth was the most rapid in decades, mainly due to immigration. Building approvals provide a ready, if imperfect, measure of land and resource use for construction. Approvals in 2023 declined for a second year by 15% from the previous year. Approvals fell to the lowest level since 2012 and were 11% below the 2000–2022 average.
Greenhouse gas emissions (not including land use change) increased for the first time since 2018, by 0.7% from the previous year. They were still 1.7% below the 2000–2022 average. Compared to the previous year, emissions continue to decrease in electricity generation (-3.5%), fugitives (-1.7%) and industrial processes (-0.6%) and remained nearly unchanged for waste and stationary energy (+0.1%), but increased for transport (+7.8%) and agriculture (+3.8%). The increase in transport emissions alone more than offsets the reductions achieved in other sectors.
Australian greenhouse gas emissions by category (ex. land cover change) (DAWE)
According to Government statistics, new forests exceeded forest removals, resulting in a net uptake of 64 Mt CO2 equivalents, identical to the preceding two years. This number is theoretical and only accounts for a small part of the landscape carbon balance. It does not include net gains or losses related to weather conditions or bushfires, for example.
Per capita emissions, expressed per individual, fell slightly, by -0.35% from the previous year to 19.6 tonnes CO2-equivalents, 25% below the peak of per capita emissions around 2000-2005. This is because of rapid population growth in 2023.
Australia is the world’s 15th largest emitter, contributing slightly over 1% of global emissions in 2023. Per capita, Australians are the 10th worst greenhouse gas emitters, just after Saudi Arabia. Australians emits 3.3 times more than the global average and 2 times more than a Chinese person.