Australia’s carbon emissions highest on record, data shows

December 13, 2018 14:00 PM Agencies


AUSTRALIA, Dec 13: Australia’s carbon emissions are again the highest on record, according to new data from the emissions-tracking organisation Ndevr Environmental.

Ndevr replicates the federal government’s national greenhouse gas inventory (NGGI) quarterly reports but releases them months ahead of the official data.

Data it has produced for the year up to September 2018 shows Australia is still on track to miss its Paris target of a 26%-28% cut to emissions on 2005 levels by 2030.

Matt Drum, the managing director of Ndevr, said if emissions continued at their current rate, Australia would miss the target by a cumulative 1.1bn tonnes.

When excluding unreliable land use data, Australia’s emissions for the year to September reached 558.3m tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent, an all-time high.

Land use data refers to emissions from activities such as land clearing and forest management, as well as removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere through activities such as reforestation.

Ndevr excludes land use data because the methodology the government uses to calculate these figures is opaque and there have been questions about whether the scale of land-clearing in Queensland is being accurately represented.

“There’s still no policy in place to ratchet them down which is why they’re increasing,” Drum said.

Electricity sector emissions were stable, but fugitive emissions, and emissions from stationary energy and transport are all still trending sharply upwards.

Release of the report comes as the environment minister, Melissa Price, addressed global COP24 climate change talks in Katowice, Poland.

Both the Coalition government and Labor have not ruled out using controversial carryover credits from the Kyoto protocol to help meet Australia’s obligations under the Paris agreement.

Labor has promised that if it wins the election it will increase Australia’s target to 45% on 2005 levels, in line with recommendations from the independent Climate Change Authority.

Ndevr’s analysis said this would require a reduction of 197.1m tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent based on current emissions levels, which would be equal to taking 75m cars off the road for a year.

In comparison, the Coalition’s emission reduction target would require an 80.8m tonne reduction.

Breaking up Labor’s target across sectors, Ndever suggests a range of reductions will be necessary in several industries, including 61.2m tonnes from the electricity sector, 33.4m tonnes from the stationary energy sector, 23.7m tonnes from agriculture and 34.2m tonnes from transport.

“If Labor come into government we can’t afford a policy vacuum,” Drum said. “It’s looking grim. We need policy levers and we need them quickly.”

Drum said the need for action was so urgent there would be no time for a full redesign of policy if there was a change of government.

Instead, he said existing policies, such as the safeguard mechanism, should be amended.

“They need to utilise existing policy like the safeguard mechanism and tweak it so it achieves what it is intended to achieve, which is reduce emissions,” he said.

On Thursday, the Greens environment spokesperson, Sarah Hanson-Young, said Australia was using “creative emissions accounting” to try to meet its Paris targets.

“Counting Kyoto credit towards Paris cheats our environment and the rest of the world,” she said.

“Our emissions are going up, yet our environment minister is telling the world we are doing our bit to meet our Paris targets.”


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