Latest release

ABS integrated Environmental-Economic Accounts

Australian System of National Accounts: Concepts, Sources and Methods
Reference period
2020-21 financial year

Introduction

23.231    Over the last twenty years, the ABS has produced a range of individual environmental accounts, including accounts for water, energy, waste, land, fish and environmental taxes. The ABS program of environmental accounts is evolving and intends to produce environmental accounts across a greater range of dimensions on a regular basis. This will support the great analytical power of integrated comparisons across dimensions and over time.

23.232    A range of Australian organisations produce environmental accounts. These include the Bureau of Meteorology (National Water Account); Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources (Energy Balances, GHG emissions accounts); the Wentworth Group (Regional Accounts); and the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment ( ecosystem accounts). While the degree varies, each of these accounts has links to the SEEA. These accounts are compiled using either Australian principles, such as the Australian Water Accounting Standards (BoM), or as a part of international efforts to monitor particular pressures, such as the GHG emission accounts (DAWE).

23.233    A variety of environmental accounts have been compiled by the ABS. These accounts are at different stages of maturity, and some accounts that have been compiled in the past, such as environment protection expenditure accounts, are no longer produced. Other ones are in regular annual production, such as the natural resources on the national balance sheet, or energy and water accounts.

23.234    In some cases, the ABS undertakes substantial primary data collection activity to support the production of accounts, such as for the Water Accounts Australia. In other cases, the ABS does not undertake the primary data collections. For example, the ABS reconfigures existing data for the Energy Account from the energy balances compiled by the DISRE, and emissions data collected by the DAWE, to match with SEEA and SNA concepts.

ABS collections

23.235    Below is a very brief listing of current and proposed ABS environmental-economic accounts - their key features, followed by a table outlining expected timeframes for their future release.

  • Water Account, Australia – annual publication, includes information on the physical and monetary supply and use of water in the Australian economy. It also includes information on water use and consumptive practices of key industries (Agriculture, Water supply, sewerage and drainage services) and households, as well as presenting data cubes for Australia and the States and Territories.
  • Energy Account, Australia – annual publication, includes physical supply and use tables that identify physical volumes by industry and energy product; hybrid supply and use estimates; that is, accounts that present related data in both monetary and physical units; physical energy asset tables that identify economically demonstrated reserves of non-renewable primary energy assets; and energy indicators including energy intensity and energy use per household.
  • Land Account: land accounts have been produced on an ad hoc basis for various regions and states, including Queensland, South Australia, Victoria and the Great Barrier Reef Region – these accounts include physical and monetary land use by industry, land cover by industry and changes in land cover over time. In addition, land accounts could potentially include terrestrial biodiversity and carbon. The ABS and DAWE are developing a set of National land accounts for release in 2021.
  • Waste Account, Australia –presents integrated monetary and physical waste information using an internationally recognised conceptual framework to assist in informing waste policy and discussion in Australia.
  • Experimental Environmental-Economic Accounts for the Great Barrier Reef – one-off publication, includes a wide range of environmental-economic accounts, including: marine and terrestrial extent and condition; biodiversity; expenditure on environmental goods and services; provisioning ecosystem services for agriculture, forestry, fishing and aquaculture; regulating ecosystem services; tourism cultural services; water; and carbon.
  • From Nature to the Table: Environmental-Economic Accounting for Agriculture – one-off publication representing the first experimental step by the ABS and its data partners to implement the international SEEA for Australia’s agriculture, forestry and fishing industries.

23.236    Other types of accounts, such as those for emissions and material flows, EPE accounts, as well as the classification and valuation of natural resource assets will be addressed in a research agenda.

23.237    Table 23.1 provides a summary of current ABS environmental-economic accounts.

Table 23.1 Summary of ABS environmental accounts
ThemeStockFlowEnvironmentally Related Transaction
Water ✔ Physical, Monetary and Emissions 
Energy✔ Physical and Monetary✔ Physical, Monetary and Emissions 
Minerals✔ Physical and Monetary✔ Physical only 
Timber✔ Monetary  
Fish✔ Physical only✔ Physical only 
Waste ✔ Physical and Monetary 
Greenhouse gas emissions ✔ Physical only 
Land cover and land use (sub national)✔ Monetary and Spatial  
Environmental Taxes  ✔ Monetary only
Environmental Protection Expenditure  ✔ Monetary only

Addressing public policy issues

23.229    There has been a significant amount of work done recently to provide data to inform the various public policy debates concerning the environment in Australia and the SEEA framework has been integral to this process. In April 2018 the Australian Government and all states and territory governments agreed on a National Strategy and Action Plan to implement EEA across Australia. The Strategy and Action Plan builds on the efforts of the ABS, and state and territory governments to deliver a nationally consistent approach to Environmental-Economic Accounting.