Emissions at lowest level in 25 years
Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions dropped 4.4 per cent in the 12 months to September last year, new government data has revealed, falling to the lowest levels in the country since 1995.The result reflects a greater worldwide reduction in emissions, which plunged by about 2.4 billion tonnes last year – a 7 per cent drop from 2019 – in the largest decline on record triggered by coronavirus restrictions.
Emissions levels are rebounding in Australia and across the world this year as the COVID-19 vaccine rollout helps governments lift restrictions, but environmentalists and climate researchers warn the world needs to shift to clean energy and policies that tackle climate change in their economic recovery plans.
Reduced domestic flights and the removal of tens of thousands of cars from capital cities as a result of work-from-home directions fuelled a 10.2 per cent decrease in emissions from Australian transport in the year to September. Pollution levels within the electricity sector fell 4 per cent courtesy of the rapid uptake in renewables such as rooftop solar and wind, with greenhouse gas levels from the national energy market at their lowest levels since records began in 2001.
The latest figures, released by the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources, put Australia 19 per cent below 2005 levels, which is the baseline year for its 26-28 per cent target by 2030 under the Paris agreement.
Since their peak in the year to June 2007, Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions have declined 21.7 per cent, the figures show. The emissions in the year to September were 8.1 per cent below emissions for the year to June 2000.
Despite the drop, the federal government is likely to be confronted later this year with international calls to speed up its transition to a low-emissions economy and commit to reaching net zero emissions by 2050.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison will head to the G7 meeting in Cornwall, England in June where British Prime Minister Boris Johnston will urge world leaders to impose carbon tariffs on global exports from countries with weak domestic climate laws.
A decline in transportation activity drove the global drop in carbon emissions last year with France (15 per cent) and Britain (12 per cent) having the largest drop. China’s emissions fell by just 1.7 per cent.
Federal Energy and Emissions Reductions Minister Angus Taylor said the government’s investment in low-emissions technologies will enable Australia’s continued success in ”meeting and beating” its emissions reduction targets. ‘Australia beat its 2020 target by 459 million tonnes and we are on track to meet and beat our 2030 Paris target,” Mr Taylor said.
Australia’s recovering economy, which increased by 3.3 per cent in the September quarter, drove an 11.7 per cent increase in actual terms in transport emissions on the previous quarter, with the return of cars to following the lifting of restrictions recovering some of the declines experienced in the March and June quarters.
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