Transport fuel drives record Australian emissions

The Australia Institute’s new Climate & Energy Program has released the National Energy Emissions Audit, a quarterly report which provides an overview of key greenhouse gas and energy trends in Australia.

Compiled by energy specialist Dr Hugh Saddler, the Audit finds that in the quarter to the end of June, Australia’s annual emissions from energy use increased to their highest ever level, higher than the previous peak seen eight years ago, in 2009. The main cause of the increased emissions is petroleum, and in particular, diesel.

“Australia’s failure to invest in efficient transport infrastructure, such as rail, has led to emissions from transport fuels continuing to grow, again, unlike the rest of the developed world,” Dr Saddler said.

“The continued rise in fuel emissions demonstrates why requiring a reduction for the electricity sector that is only equal to the Paris target would likely see Australia fail to meet its international commitment.”

Key findings:

  • Australia’s energy emissions continue to increase, breaking all-time record. Australia’s annual energy combustion emissions increased between March and June 2017, to the highest level seen for the past six years. Australia’s total energy combustion emissions have now reached a record level, higher than the previous peak seen in 2009.

  • Australia is the only member of the UNFCCC Annex 1 group of developed countries, apart from Turkey, in which energy combustion emissions in 2017 are the highest since 1990, the first year of the UNFCCC.

  • Petroleum, in particular diesel consumption is the main driver of emission increases. Electricity generation emissions went down between March and June, while natural gas emissions showed only a slight increase.

  • There is no indication of when or if growth in petroleum emissions will stop.

The Audit's final conclusion is that “the absence of any serious policy measures to curb the growth in energy consumed by road transport is a failure almost as great as the failure in electricity industry policy”.

The National Energy Emissions Audit September 2017 is available here.

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