The Federal Government has released the December 2018 Quarterly Update of Australia’s National Greenhouse Gas Inventory which shows that emissions per capita and the emissions intensity of the economy were at their lowest levels in 29 years in December 2018. However, compared to the previous year, the national emissions rose.
According to the report, emissions per capita in the year to December 2018 fell by 38.2 per cent since 1990, while the emissions intensity of the economy fell 61.4 per cent. The report also shows national emissions were 14.2 per cent below the peak recorded in the year to June 2007 and 11.9 per cent below emissions in 2005 (the baseline year for the Paris agreement).
However, in the year to December 2018, emissions rose by 3.5 Mt CO2-e to 538.2 Mt CO2-e, up 0.7 per cent (3.5 Mt CO2-e) from the previous year, primarily due to increased LNG exports (22.2 per cent).
National emission levels for the December quarter 2018 also increased by 0.8 per cent relative to the previous quarter, primarily due to increased emissions from LNG for export, diesel consumption across transport, and metal manufacturing.
The increase in emissions is driven by total gas production increasing 7.1 per cent in the December 2018 quarter. This includes a 6.5 per cent increase in LNG exports. An 11.8 per cent increase in underground coal production also contributed to the increase in fugitive emissions.
The report highlights that the rapid growth of LNG exports has increased emissions, while also suggesting the industry has potentially reduced global emissions by up to 27 per cent of Australia’s annual emissions in the year to December 2018.
“Australia’s total LNG exports have the potential to lower emissions in importing countries by around 148 Mt CO2-e in 2018 by displacing coal consumption in those countries,” Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction Angus Taylor said.
He added the Federal Government will not trash successful Australian export industries that are reducing global emissions, in order to reduce Australian emissions.
Australia’s LNG export earnings are expected to increase by 62 per cent to $50.2 billion in 2018‑19 and are forecast to reach $52.6 billion in 2019-20, according to figures recently released by the Department of Industry.
“This is a substantial global contribution to be proud of,” he stated.
According to the report, electricity sector emissions have decreased by 6.5 Mt CO2-e, or 3.5 per cent, in the year to December 2018, which reflects a decrease in demand in the National Electricity Market and fuel switching flowing from a 31.1 per cent or 7.9 TWh increase in renewable generation in the year to December 2018.