Patchy progress in carbon cutting shows carbon laws at work & highlights gaps Media Release

Apr 15, 2013 - 1:30pm

The fall in Australia’s carbon emissions revealed by today’s Greenhouse Accounts Update shows that Australia’s carbon policies are beginning to make progress in most sectors, but that they must be maintained and strengthened to address sectors where emissions continue to rise.

The update shows that Australia’s national emissions for 2012 – excluding land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF) – fell by 0.2 per cent, driven by few emissions from electricity. Factoring in LULUCF, however, which is not covered by the carbon laws, total emissions rose by 0.8 per cent.

“Because the electricity sector is the largest single source of Australian emissions, it’s great to see that policies to clean up the sector are beginning to work,” said John Connor, CEO The Climate Institute.

“The combination of the carbon price, the Renewable Energy Target, and increased energy efficiency is having the desired effect. However, it’s important to recognise that if you take away any of these policies you increase the risk that electricity emissions will rise again.”

Electricity sector emissions in 2012 were down by nearly 10 million tonnes, or 4.7 per cent lower than in 2011.Emissions from industrial processes also fell (by 1.9 per cent).

However, fugitive emissions from coal and gas production grew by 8.6 per cent, while deforestation emissions grew by 10 per cent. Emissions also grew in transport (2.8 per cent), agriculture (2.4 per cent) and stationary energy excluding electricity (0.7 per cent).

Recent analysis by The Climate Institute shows that by 2030 Australia will have to reduce emissions by around 60 per cent on 2000 levels to avoid dangerous levels of climate change. To allow the economy to adjust to this shift gradually, Australia should move to the top end of its current committed target range and cut emissions by 25 per cent by 2020.

“The unevenness of improvement underscores the need to have a comprehensive policy framework that addresses the sectors where emissions are increasing,” said Connor.

“Parts of the transport system – such as heavy vehicles – are not covered by the carbon price and their carbon emissions are rising. Dealing with these gaps and having policies that take all our emissions down beyond 2020 is a real test for both major political parties.”

For more information
John Connor  | CEO, The Climate Institute | 02 8239 6299
Kristina Stefanova  | Communications Director, The Climate Institute | 02 8239 6299

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