John Connor

16 April 2013 — Australia’s carbon policies are starting to make progress in most sectors, but must be maintained and strengthened to address sectors where emissions continue to rise, The Climate Institute chief executive officer John Connor says.

Mr Connor was speaking after this week’s release of the Greenhouse Accounts Update.

The update shows that Australia’s national emissions for 2012 – excluding land use, land use change and forestry – fell by 0.2 per cent, driven by few emissions from electricity.

However, factoring in LULUCF, which is not covered by the carbon laws, total emissions rose by 0.8 per cent.

Mr Connor said the combination of the carbon price, the Renewable Energy Target, and increased energy efficiency was 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,” he said.

A media release from Climate Change, Industry and Innovation Minister Greg Combet said for the major sectors covered by the carbon pricing mechanism – electricity, other stationary energy, fugitives, industrial process emissions and waste – emissions decreased by 1 per cent over the six months to December 2012 compared with the same period in 2011.

“Carbon pollution from the electricity generation sector accounts for 36 per cent of Australia’s total greenhouse gas emissions. For the first two quarters of 2012-13, national emissions from this sector were around 14 million tonnes lower, on an annualised basis, compared with emissions for the same period in the previous year,” the release said.

“There has been modest growth in emissions from some other sectors driven by Australia’s strong economic growth and resources investments.

“Australia has formally submitted the latest National Greenhouse Accounts to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, showing that Australia’s carbon pollution levels are currently tracking at 105 per cent of their 1990 levels.

Australia’s latest National Greenhouse Accounts include four reports:

  • • Quarterly Update of Australia’s National Greenhouse Gas Inventory: December   Quarter 2012
  • • National Inventory Report 2011, (submission under the UNFCCC, Kyoto Protocol)
  • • National Inventory by Economic Sector 2010-11
  • • State and Territory Greenhouse Gas Inventories 2010-11

The reports are available through the Department of Industry, Innovation, Climate Change, Science, Research and Tertiary Education website at https://climatechange.gov.au/climate-change/emissions.aspx

Meanwhile Mr Connor said the unevenness of improvement underscored the need to have a comprehensive policy framework that addressed the sectors where emissions are increasing.

“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.”