Australia is not listening. It is holding its hands to its ears, closing its eyes and shouting “I’m not listening.”
A report out this week highlights that Australia’s commitments under the Paris agreement are getting further and further away, despite the Australian Government legally committing to cutting emissions by 26% or better below 2005 levels by 2030.
Thus week Ndevr Environmental has modeled a quarterly emissions budget for Australia based on keeping global warming under 2 degrees.
It says that emissions for Q3 will come in 136.2 Mt CO2-e (Metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent) up by 1.2 Mt CO2-e on the previous quarter’s result and up 3.4 Mt CO2-e on the same quarter a year before.
Australia is on track to miss its target hugely and emissions from electricity generation were up 8.2% on the previous quarter after three consecutive quarters of decline. This is first quarter after the disastrous election which saw the Labour party and the Greens out in the wilderness, failing to unseat the existing Liberal National coalition. It’s almost as if everyone who had been worried about emissions suddenly relaxed and gave the finger to those who care.
And during that quarter total renewable electricity generation actually fell by 0.7 Tera Watt hours (TWh) as fossil fuel electricity generation went up by 3.5 TWh. Fugitive emissions are now the highest on record, in line with Australia’s LNG production for the export market. Overnight if you count coal and gas exports, Australia has become the biggest polluter per capita in the world. This is in contrast to prior years when Australia’s emissions typically remained stable or fell between Q2 and Q3 as there as a slight decline in economic activity.
In Q2 New South Wales generated 15.5 TWh with 4.4% coming from renewables, down from 4.8% in the prior quarter. Queensland 14.3 TWh with 2.4% coming from renewables, up from 1.1%. Victoria generated 10.1 TWh with 11.0% coming from renewable sources down from 11.8%. Much the same was true in the smaller markets of South Australia and Tasmania.
The Office of the Chief Economist’s Resources and Energy Quarterly June 2019 says that “Australia’s LNG export volumes will increase from 75 million tonnes to 81 million tonnes by 2020–21, as the last two projects in Australia’s recent wave of LNG investments ramp up output.” More fugitive emissions come with that territory
A second report out this week from a Berlin-based science and policy institute called Climate Analytics found that planned coal and gas expansions will likely push Australia’s share of emissions higher over the next decade making its coal alone responsible for 12% of global emissions by then.
“This report confirms Australia is on track to become one of the world’s worst contributors to climate damage,” the report said.
Climate Analytics said when emissions from Australia’s current coal, oil and gas exports (3.6% of global total) are added to domestic emissions (1.4% of global total), Australia’s global climate pollution footprint is about 5%. But when you add in Australia’s exported emissions, Australia rockets to equal fifth on the list of major global climate polluters, alongside Russia and behind only India, the European Union, the USA and China.
With planned coal and gas expansions as other countries emissions fall, and Australia could take this up to 17% of global emissions by 2030. Significant harm from of a country of just 24.6 million people. Never mind the UK having another referendum, can Australia retake its election vote?