Energy and Population Policies in Australia


The Australian Government is about to release Australia’s first sustainable population policy. Sustainable population growth, among other things, implies sustainable energy demand. Current modelling of future energy demand both in Australia and by agencies such as the International Energy Agency sees population growth as one of the key drivers of energy demand. Simply increasing the demand for energy in response to population policy is sustainable only if there is a radical restructuring of the energy system away from energy sources associated with environmental degradation towards one more reliant on renewable fuels and less reliant on fossil fuels. Energy policy can also address the present nexus between energy consumption per person and population growth through an aggressive energy efficiency policy. This paper considers the link between population policies and energy policies and considers how the overall goal of sustainability can be achieved. The methods applied in this analysis draw on the literature of sustainable development to develop elements of an energy planning framework to support a sustainable population policy. Rather than simply accept that energy demand is a function of population increase moderated by an assumed rate of energy efficiency improvement, the focus is on considering what rate of energy efficiency improvement is necessary to significantly reduce the standard connections between population growth and growth in energy demand and what policies are necessary to achieve this situation. Energy efficiency policies can only moderate unsustainable aspects of energy demand and other policies are essential to restructure existing energy systems into on-going sustainable forms. Policies to achieve these objectives are considered. This analysis shows that energy policy, population policy and sustainable development policies are closely integrated. Present policy and planning agencies do not reflect this integration and energy and population policies in Australia have largely developed independently and whether the outcome is sustainable is largely a matter of chance. A genuinely sustainable population policy recognises the inter-dependence between population and energy policies and it is essential that this is reflected in integrated policy and planning agencies.

Share and Cite:

Hargreaves, D. (2013) Energy and Population Policies in Australia. Open Journal of Energy Efficiency, 2, 1-6. doi: 10.4236/ojee.2013.21001.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


[1] H. Turton and C. Hamilton, “Population Growth and Greenhouse Emissions, Sources, Trends and Projections in Australia,” Discussion Paper, the Australia Institute, Canberra, No. 26, 1999.
[2] Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics, “Trends in Australian Energy Intensity, 1973-74 to 1997-98,” Research Report 13, Canberra, 2000.
[3] Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics-Bureau of Rural Sciences (ABARE-BRS), “End Use Energy Intensity in the Australian Economy,” Research Report 10.08, Canberra, 2010.
[4] International Energy Agency (IEA), “30 Years of Energy Use in IEA Countries,” Organisation for Economic Co- operation and Development, Paris, 2004.
[5] Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), “Australian National Accounts, National Income, Expenditure and Product,” Cat No. 5206.0, Canberra, 2010.
[6] Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), “Australian Demographic Statistics,” Cat No. 3101.0, Canberra2010.
[7] Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics (ABARE), “Australian Energy Projections to 2020- 30,” Research Report 10.02, Canberra, 2010.
[8] Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), “Population Projections Australia,” Cat No. 3222.0, Canberra, 2008.
[9] Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency (DCC & EE), Australia’s Emission Projections, Canberra, 2010.
[10] Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency (DCC & EE), “Australian National Greenhouse Accounts, National Greenhouse Inventory,” Accounting for the Kyoto Target May 2010, Canberra, 2010.
[11] Australian Treasury, “Australia to 2050: Future Challenges,” Canberra, 2010.
[12] Prime Ministerial Task Group, “Report on Energy Efficiency,” Canberra, 2010.

Copyright © 2023 by authors and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.

Creative Commons License

This work and the related PDF file are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.