Australia can achieve net-zero emissions before 2050, CSIRO says. 

The national science agency says that rapid decarbonisation technologies can drive a 52 power cent reduction by 2030 from 2020 levels, if key actions are taken. 

CSIRO’s new paper, Pathways to Net Zero Emissions – An Australian Perspective on Rapid Decarbonisation, underscores the need for an accelerated transition across the economy to meet the 1.5°C global warming target.

CSIRO's Rapid Decarbonisation scenario outlines key milestones in 10-year intervals, setting Australia on a trajectory towards net zero by 2050. 

While existing technologies can contribute to a significant emissions reduction by 2030, the report highlights the necessity of deploying early-stage technologies in the 2030s and 2040s, especially in hard-to-abate sectors.

The report emphasises the financial sector's crucial role in supporting this transition, with substantial investment costs anticipated. 

Dr Peter Mayfield, CSIRO's Executive Director for Environment, Energy, and Resources, sees vast opportunities for Australia to foster new industries and innovate for global decarbonisation.

“Pressure is mounting for business to speed up its efforts towards net zero and lead the way for the rest of the country. How to move faster to deliver a cleaner, sustainable and strong economy is the question on every business leader’s mind,” he said. 

“This work will help business find a rapid and achievable pathway to net zero appropriate to their sector – guiding investment to mitigate climate change, reinventing industries of old, and creating new jobs in emerging industries.”  

The report, a collaboration between CSIRO and the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA), combines the International Energy Agency’s global analysis with CSIRO’s Australian industry knowledge for the first time. 

Focusing on high-emission sectors, including energy, transport, building, and heavy industry, the study projects a renewable electricity sector leading the national effort.

To achieve net zero by 2050, the report suggests tripling renewable sources by 2030, so that it makes up 90 per cent of the electricity generation mix. 

By 2040, the report says 73 per cent of vehicles on the road are projected to be electric-powered.