Australia’s natural capital reaches $6,138 billion

The total value of Australia’s environmental assets or natural capital was $6,138 billion at 30 June 2016, more than double the value of $2,953 billion in 2006, according to a report released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

These values have been generated using data sourced from major commonwealth and state government agencies according to relevant international statistical standards.

Steve May, Director of the ABS Environmental Accounts Development Section, said that Australia’s land, mineral, energy and timber resources added up to a high level of natural capital.

“Although we are not able to value everything in the environment at this stage, what we can value is still very large,” Mr May said.

“Land now makes up 83 per cent of the value of Australia’s environmental assets and was valued at $5,105 billion at 30 June 2016. The total value of Australia’s environmental assets amounts to $254,406 for every person in Australia (based on a population of just over 24 million).

“Natural capital is only one factor when considering the interactions between the environment and economy. There are some positive trends in how Australians have responded to environmental pressures while maintaining economic growth.

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“While the economy grew by 78 per cent, water consumption dropped by 22 per cent between 1996-97 and 2014-15. We also saw a growth of 32 per cent in the energy used in the Australian economy during this period, but as this was at a slower rate than the economy, energy intensity has fallen which is a positive sign.

“Greenhouse gas emissions rose by 18 per cent between 1996-97 and 2005-06. From this peak through to 2013-14 they fell 17 per cent to finish just 1 per cent up on the level recorded in 1996-97.”

The 2017 edition of Australian Environmental-Economic Accounts is the fourth release of this publication reporting on Australia’s environment and its relationship with the economy.