Carbon sequestration is the process of capturing and removing of carbon dioxide from Earth's atmosphere. This report, prepared for the Climate Change Authority and Clean Energy Regulator, provides an assessment of Australia's carbon sequestration potential, highlighting the opportunities capturing and storing atmospheric carbon dioxide can play in helping Australia reach net zero emissions.
The report, led by CSIRO's Towards Net Zero Mission and CarbonLock Future Science Platform, brings together scientists with expertise across a range of nature-based and engineered sequestration technologies, to look at their sequestration potential, barriers to uptake, and co-benefits.
The report finds that nature-based technologies such as permanent plantings, plantation and farm forestry, and soil carbon currently provide significant potential; as does Australia's vast geological storage capacity.
Biochar, mineral carbonation and DAC have significant sequestration potential but are associated with higher costs; these are areas where investment into research to bring down the unit cost associated with capture could increase national sequestration potential.
This report will inform an Insights Paper on carbon sequestration being published by the Climate Change Authority, which will help inform the advice to government on Australia’s 2035 emissions reduction target.
Download the report
- Australia's carbon sequestration potential report (full report) PDF (12 MB)
- Australia's carbon sequestration potential (full report, text file) TXT (677 KB)
- Australia's carbon sequestration potential (summary report) PDF (4 MB)
- Australia's carbon sequestration potential (summary report, text file) TXT (66 KB)
Notes from the authors
Readers using the estimates of sequestration potential in this report should understand their limitations and time frames, as stated in the report, namely:
- There are important differences between estimates of technical, economic and realisable potential. The report provides estimates of technical and economic potential but more work is needed to inform realisable potential.
- Available estimates of sequestration potential cannot be summed to provide an indication of national potential. This requires understanding the realisable potential, which takes into account the trade-offs between the social, environmental, and economic uses of shared resources to provide a more conservative estimate of sequestration that is achievable under real-world conditions.
- Sequestration potential is distinct from the potential for carbon credits. Although the generation and trade of credits in carbon markets are mechanisms to support realising sequestration potential, there are many other enablers.
- Sequestration potentials are made for discrete dates (variously 2035 and 2050). No assumptions about the projected pathways to delivery are made.