Australian Metal Exports Could Reduce Carbon Emissions

Green metals, electricity and green hydrogen exports could be the key for Australia to take the lead when it comes to lowering carbon emissions in the Asia-Pacific region.

FREMONT, CA: According to the International Energy Agency's 2020 World Energy Outlook, Asia Pacific countries accounted for over half of worldwide CO2 emissions from energy usage in 2019. Over the next two decades, the region is predicted to account for over two-thirds of global energy demand growth. However, researchers at the Australian National University believe that if Australia's current level of key commodity exports such as thermal coal, liquefied natural gas, iron ore, bauxite, and alumina were replaced by green alternatives, the Asia-Pacific region's greenhouse gas emissions could be reduced by about 8.6 per cent. Solar and wind farms would be required to cover around two per cent of Australia's land area. The scientists give the first assessment of the energy, land, and water requirements of a new zero-carbon export model for island-country in a paper just published in the journal Energy.

One of the study authors remarked in a media release that Australia has fantastic wind and solar resources, so the land required to produce zero-carbon energy exports is relatively small, and the required solar panels and wind farms could be co-located with existing land uses like livestock grazing. Becoming a clean commodity exporter may provide Australia with long-term export money while also helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions well beyond its boundaries. The research also emphasize that the country's exports of fossil fuels and minerals currently outnumber domestic greenhouse gas emissions. With the right policy settings in place, Australia has the potential to make significant contributions to reaching Asia Pacific sustainable development goals, especially for remote Aboriginal communities in Australia. 

Countries like China, Japan, South Korea, India, and Indonesia have already established net-zero carbon targets, and Australia should follow suit. There is a tremendous possibility to transition to a much cleaner export bundle since Australia is one of the world's major exporters of fossil fuels.