Australia's emissions fell 0.9 per cent last year, with decreases in electricity, agriculture and transport partially offset by increases in other sectors.
Environmentalists fear the progress will be short-lived as the drop was driven by drought and policies that are coming to an end, while the government favours a growth in gas.
The latest government data shows emissions fell during the December quarter by 0.5 per cent.
Emissions from exports increased by three per cent last year, driven by liquefied natural gas, which the government argues is helping other countries reduce their emissions.
Agricultural emissions were down 5.8 per cent, partly as a result of the drought.
Emissions from the electricity sector fell 2.9 per cent.
The Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources puts this down to a 4.3 per cent reduction in coal generation and a 10 per cent increase in renewables in the National Electricity Market.
Emissions from the NEM in the March quarter decreased by 0.7 per cent from the previous period.
Australia’s total carbon dioxide emissions totalled 532.5 megatonnes last year, a level not seen since 2015.
Climate Council senior researcher Tim Baxter says the “temporary” downturn of emissions means nothing if the polluting gas sector continues to grow.
“New data that shows a slight dip in Australia’s emissions last year will be unsustainable without a plan to dramatically reduce our emissions by weaning the country off coal, oil and gas which drive climate change and cause more extreme weather events like bushfires,” the group said.
The Australia Institute’s energy program director Richie Merzian says the drop in emissions didn’t occur because of federal government policy.
He says electricity emissions are down because of Labor’ renewable energy policies, the dip in transport is because of consumer choice, and agriculture because of drought.
Labor’s climate spokesman Mark Butler says the government can’t shy away from a net zero emissions by 2050 target.
“The Morrison government took the advice of scientists when it came to COVID-19. They can no longer ignore climate scientists,” he said.
The data comes as the next major UN climate talks have been delayed until the end of 2021, a year later than originally planned, because of coronavirus.
The meeting, known as the COP26 summit, has been billed as the most important climate change summit since the 2015 talks that produced the Paris agreement.
Countries have been asked to bring plans for stronger climate action.
Mr Taylor will take a technology roadmap and investment statement as the main tools in his policy briefcase.
* The waste sector – including landfills, wastewater treatment and incineration – remained steady last year, amounting to about 2.4 per cent of total emissions
* Land use and forestry increased by 7.3 per cent last year.
* The federal government says the overall progress equates to about a 13 per cent reduction in emissions on 2005 levels
* By 2030, the government wants to see a 26 to 28 per cent reduction, in line with the Paris agreement.