Pathways to Deep Decarbonisation in 2050: How Australia can prosper in a low carbon world


The 'Pathways to Deep Decarbonisation in 2050: How Australia can prosper in a low carbon world' report, released 23 September 2014, presents an illustrative deep decarbonisation pathway for Australia – just one of many possible pathways – developed using a combination of well-established modelling tools to identify feasible and least-cost options. 

This work finds that Australia can achieve net zero emissions by 2050 and live within its recommended carbon budget, using technologies that exist today, while maintaining economic prosperity. Major technological transitions and many activities are needed in some industries, but no fundamental change to Australia’s economy is required. The technologies required for decarbonisation are currently available or under development. 

Decarbonisation of energy systems in all countries relies on three pillars: ambitious energy efficiency; low carbon electricity; and electrification and fuel switching. For Australia there is a fourth pillar: reducing non-energy emissions in industry and agriculture.

ClimateWorks Australia and the Australian National University (ANU) were appointed to lead Australia’s participation in the global 2050 Deep Decarbonisation Pathways Project (DDPP), coordinated by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN). 

The project, locally known as 'Pathways to Deep Decarbonisation in 2050: How Australia can prosper in a low carbon world', draws on research and analysis from 15 participating country teams, which collectively represents more than 70% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Working within a coordinated framework, each country is exploring the potential to achieve deep decarbonisation, while maintaining economic prosperity, with the goal of limiting a global temperature rise of 2° Celsius.

The broad objectives of the project are to:

  • Prepare transparent and practical national pathways to help countries adopt and implement policies to achieve deep decarbonisation.
  • Support international climate change negotiations by helping decision makers and the global community to understand how deep decarbonisation can be achieved.
  • Support positive outcomes of the 2014 World Leaders Climate Summit, convened by the UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, and the 2015 Conference of the Parties (COP21) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
  • Build an on-going global network to facilitate learning and promote problem solving in the implementation phase of national deep decarbonisation strategies after 2015.

There are a range of possible pathways, using existing technologies, to a 2050 decarbonised and prosperous Australia, with the project identifying the best available options on how this can be achieved. ClimateWorks Australia and the ANU, with support of CSIRO and Victoria University's Centre for Policy Studies (CoPS), have now submitted their findings to the SDSN.