Explainer: A guide to the Northern Territory’s emissions targets and progress


The Northern Territory’s emissions are characterized by significant contributions from the energy sector, particularly gas extraction and processing, alongside emissions from agriculture and land use.

Emissions Trend Over the Last Decade

Emissions have shown an upward trend in recent years, largely due to increased activity in the natural gas sector, contrasting with the broader national push towards emissions reduction.

Comparison with Other States and Territories

While the Northern Territory has a smaller total emissions volume due to its low population, its per capita emissions are among the highest in Australia, reflecting its energy-intensive industries.

Northern Territory Emissions Reduction Targets

The Northern Territory has committed to a target of achieving net-zero emissions by 2050, aligning with Australia’s broader climate goals.

Alignment with National and International Goals

The net-zero by 2050 target is in line with Australia's commitments under the Paris Agreement, though specific interim targets and strategies are less defined compared to other regions.

Is Northern Territory on Track to Hit Its Targets?

Given the recent increases in emissions, significant efforts and policy shifts will be necessary to reverse the trend and achieve the long-term net-zero objective.

Key Sectors Contributing to Emissions

The primary sources of emissions are the natural gas industry, electricity generation, and land use practices, including agriculture and forestry.

Characteristics Impacting Emissions and Climate Policies

The Northern Territory’s vast landscapes, significant Indigenous land management practices, and reliance on fossil fuel extraction shape its emissions and policy approaches.

Key Policies to Achieve Emissions Reduction Targets

  • Renewable Energy: Initiatives to increase solar energy production, particularly in remote and off-grid communities, reducing reliance on diesel.
  • Electric Vehicles: Developing infrastructure for EVs and incentives for adoption are in early stages, with potential for significant impact on transport emissions.

Challenges in Meeting Future Emissions Reduction Targets

Challenges include transitioning the economy away from dependency on fossil fuel extraction and addressing emissions from land use without compromising economic development.

Unique Opportunities for Meeting Future Emissions Reduction Targets

Opportunities lie in leveraging the Northern Territory’s abundant solar resources, pioneering carbon farming and land management practices, and capitalizing on its strategic position for future green energy export markets.

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