Australia’s carbon emissions are increasing, government report shows

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A report quietly released on Christmas Eve shows Australia’s emissions rose by about 1% in 2014-15, compared with the previous year.

The December 2015 quarterly update of carbon emissions, which covers the period to the end of June 2015, was released with no fanfare on Christmas Eve. The quarterly update forms part of Australia’s international reporting of its emissions

It shows that Australia’s emissions increased by 0.8% last financial year compared with the previous one, and 1.3% when land use and deforestation were taken into account. Australia generated 549.3 mega-tonnes of carbon dioxide in 2014-15.

The Australian government promised at the Paris climate talks to reduce emissions by 26% to 28% by 2030 and will likely come under pressure to do more after the world agreed to work to keep the global temperature rise to 2C.

The report points to increases in electricity, stationary energy (excluding electricity), transport, fugitive emissions, and industrial processes and product use. However it says there was a steep decline – 3.8% – in emissions from agriculture.

Emissions from electricity generation rose 3% in 2014-15, despite demand from consumers remaining flat in 2014-15. Power generation from black coal increased by 1.4%, and brown coal generation increased by 9.7%.

Electricity from wind and other renewables (excluding small-scale solar) increased 12.2% on the previous 12 months, but hydroelectric generation fell by 30.3%.

Electricity generation was the largest source of emissions, accounting for 34% in 2014-15.

Prof Will Steffen from the Climate Council told Fairfax Media the December figures showed Australia needed to urgently wean itself off coal to meet its global commitments.

“If we’re putting more into the atmosphere than the year before, than we’re heading in the wrong direction,” he said. “We’ve got to drop emissions fast. We’ve got to get out of fossil fuels very quickly, coal first – there can no new coalmines anywhere in the world.”

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