APS Net Zero Emissions by 2030

Australian Public Service (APS) Net Zero 2030

APS Net Zero 2030 is the Government’s policy for the Australian Public Service (APS) to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2030, and transparently report on its emissions from the latter half of 2023. The policy will be updated over time, informed by APS emissions data and annual reporting.

The APS will achieve net zero by actively reducing emissions from government operations and through the use of offsets. This policy is being delivered consistent with Australia’s international commitments and will contribute to achievement of Australia’s Paris Agreement targets (available here: NDC 2022 Update Letter to UNFCCC.pdf).

International Net Zero Government Initiative Australia joined the United States as one of 19 countries that launched the Net Zero Government Initiative at the Climate Change Conference held in Egypt in November 2022. The Net Zero Government Initiative commits countries to achieving net zero emissions from government operations and underscores the leadership role of governments in catalysing economy-wide climate actions. You can read the media release from Minister Gallagher and Minister Bowen here.

2030 Target – Policy scope

The Government intends that by 2030 the broadest range of government agencies, activities and emissions as is feasible will be subject to the net zero target. Each entity will be responsible for reducing its own emissions to net zero, supported by the APS Net Zero Unit in the Department of Finance. However, the policy acknowledges emissions from some government operations (e.g. Australia’s Antarctic operations) are unlikely to be reduced or avoided by 2030, and these emissions may then need to be offset to support the 2030 target.

The APS will continue to build capability over time to set a standard of best-practice net zero government operations.

The 2030 target will initially apply to non-corporate Commonwealth entities, with some security exclusions (see below). Corporate Commonwealth entities and Commonwealth companies are encouraged to reduce their emissions, with further consideration in 2023 of the target for these types of entities, noting they operate with a degree of independence from the Government. See the Flipchart of Commonwealth entities and companies.

The Australian Defence Force and security agencies are excluded from the 2030 target given their operational needs. These agencies are still encouraged to reduce emissions where possible, for example standard office accommodation and passenger vehicles.

The Government expects to make further decisions to define the policy for the 2030 target before the end of 2023, informed by additional consultation and up-to-date emissions data collected from across the APS. This data will identify the current emissions profile from government operations and help to understand the measures required to reach net zero by 2030. The Government will then be able to make decisions on the range of entities, activities and emissions to be included in the 2030 target and options to ensure the target is met by 2030.

Public reporting – Government emissions

All non-corporate and corporate Commonwealth entities will be required to publicly report on the emissions from their operations (there are no exclusions from reporting). This will commence with public reporting of 2022-23 emissions in late 2023 in entity annual reports, with Finance publishing a consolidated whole of government report before the end of 2023.

There are currently multiple approaches to reporting emissions. While each has merits, none are entirely fit-for-purpose when applied in context of APS Net Zero. The APS Net Zero Unit, supported by the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water, is developing an emissions estimation and reporting framework. The framework will be designed to comply with existing reporting obligations, but will ultimately be a new framework that is backward compatible with prior reporting for energy efficiency in government operations.

Entities will be able to measure and report on their emissions using tools and guidance being developed by the APS Net Zero Unit.

Latest guidance

Finance has published an update to RMG 135 (annual reports for non-corporate Commonwealth entities) and RMG 136 (annual reports for corporate Commonwealth entities).

This guidance outlines the minimum annual reporting requirements related to the APS Net Zero Policy.

The relevant section on Australian Public Service Net Zero 2030 within each RMG can be found by expanding the section under Other legislative requirements titled Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. 

Finance is developing and testing an emissions reporting tool to assist entities with meeting these reporting requirements. Finance will share the tool along with additional guidance in mid-June 2023 to facilitate annual reporting for the 2022-23 financial year period.

Emissions sources for the 2030 target and public reporting

APS Net Zero Emissions

Diagram description

For the 2030 target and for public reporting, the initial focus will be scope 1 emissions and scope 2 emissions. This will provide an opportunity to help rebuild capability across the APS to measure, report and reduce emissions, noting reporting by entities on emissions from their operations has not been mandatory since 2012-13.

The Government will implement a continuous improvement cycle in public reporting as time goes on, especially for scope 3 emissions, as data quality, methodology and APS capability improves. Scope 3 emissions will be included in the 2022-23 reports for emissions sources where robust data is available (e.g. domestic business air travel).

Further work during 2023 will consider the possible inclusion of some scope 3 emissions in the 2030 target, for future decisions by the Government.

Emissions reduction opportunities

Finance is responsible for a number of whole of government policies and frameworks that can be leveraged to reduce emissions, including property, procurement, fleet vehicles and travel. Finance is reviewing and updating these arrangements and developing guidance for entities to support net zero outcomes.

Some examples include opportunities to reduce energy demand and improve the energy efficiency of government property, updating energy efficiency guidance for new leases, and considering how to increase renewable energy supply to government sites. The Government has set a target of 75% of the Commonwealth’s fleet of new passenger vehicles to be low emissions vehicles by 2025, with a preference for zero emission vehicles.

The Commonwealth Property Management Framework was updated in December 2022 to provide initial guidance and support on APS Net Zero Considerations for property.

The Government has set a target of 75% of the Commonwealth's fleet of new passenger vehicles to be low emissions vehicles by 2025, with a preference for zero emission vehicles. 

The Commonwealth Procurement Rules were updated in July 2022 to include climate change impacts when considering value for money.

Building APS capability

Achieving APS Net Zero 2030 requires early action by all government entities. The APS Net Zero Unit will support entities through developing tools and guidance, creating learning and development opportunities and facilitating the sharing of knowledge and experience.

A collaborative space is available on GovTEAMS for those working on APS Net Zero within their organisations to engage with others. The community will be a source of updates, resources, toolkits and consultation for entities. The community will also hold monthly meetings to celebrate case studies from across the APS. To request access please contact APSNetZero@finance.gov.au for an invitation.

Did you find this content useful?