Australia’s emissions dip as exports rise

Paul Osborne
(Australian Associated Press)

 

As Australia prepares for a UN climate summit in Spain, a new report shows annual greenhouse gas emissions have dipped slightly, mainly due to more renewable energy use and the impact of the drought.

The latest national greenhouse inventory estimates emissions totalled 532 megatonnes (Mt) in 2018/19, down 0.1 per cent on the previous year. This was also a reduction of 12.9 per cent from 2005.

Strong growth in emissions from stationary energy (3.6 per cent) and fugitive emissions (4.4 per cent) was offset by a combination of an ongoing reduction in emissions from electricity (1.2 per cent) and the impact of the drought on agriculture (5.9 per cent).

Stationary energy includes fuel combustion in the manufacturing, mining, residential and commercial sectors.

Fugitive emissions are produced during the production, processing, transport, storage, transmission and distribution of fossil fuels. This includes coal, crude oil and natural gas.

Meanwhile, the rapid expansion of LNG production accounted for much of the rise in the share of export-related emissions to 37.5 per cent, from 30.1 per cent, or 199 Mt.

At the same time, the value of Australian exports increased by 36.4 per cent since 2013/14, to $372 billion in 2018/19.

“Despite this upward pressure, emissions per capita and the emissions intensity of the economy continue to fall and are at their lowest levels in nearly three decades,” Emissions Reduction Minister Angus Taylor, who will head to Madrid in just over a week, said.

The government has a Paris Agreement target of reducing emissions by 26 to 28 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030.

It has also committed, in a report to the UN in June, to develop “an economy-wide long term emissions reduction strategy by the end of 2020”.

“Our commitment is achievable, balanced and responsible, and is part of coordinated global action to deliver a healthy environment for future generations while keeping our economy strong,” Mr Taylor said.

Meanwhile, the head of the United Nations’ Environment Program is expected to tell leaders at the summit a “decade has been wasted” in the fight to tackle climate change.

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