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Australia: Eastern states' emissions down 4 per cent this winter

Date
06 September 2009

Greenhouse gas emissions from energy use fell by more than three million tonnes or 4 per cent across Australia's eastern states this winter compared with the previous winter, according to a new report released today by The Climate Group. This is the equivalent of taking almost 3 million cars off the road over winter.

Total emissions for the season were 74.69 million tonnes. Emissions were down across all states included in the report with South Australia recording the largest relative fall in winter emissions of more than 8 per cent compared with 2008.

The Climate Group's Greenhouse Indicator Winter Report tracks the main sources of greenhouse emissions (those produced by coal, natural gas and petroleum) in Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland and South Australia.

Emissions fell across all three major sources of energy in all four states: overall coal emissions were down 4.4 per cent, gas emissions were down 5.7 per cent and petroleum emissions dropped 2.7 per cent.

The drop in emissions was because of a fall in demand for both electricity and petroleum across the four states of 3.4 per cent and 2.7 per cent respectively compared with winter 2008, rather than from significant changes in the way states generated their electricity. On average across the four states the overall share of electricity generation from coal, gas and renewables remained the same as in winter 2008, although there were some differences in individual states.

"The extraordinarily warm winter is likely to be the major contributing factor to the drop in greenhouse emissions," said Rupert Posner, Australia Director of The Climate Group.

This winter has been one of the warmest ever recorded in Australia with average temperatures at least one degree higher than the long-term average across all four states: Victoria was 1.0 degree higher, New South Wales 1.48 degrees higher, Queensland 1.52 degrees higher and South Australia 1.76 higher than the long term average. The average maximum daily temperatures were also the highest ever recorded in Australia in each of the four states during winter. Greenhouse emissions traditionally peak in winter and summer due to increased heating and air conditioning use. A milder weather means people did not use their heaters as much.

"While this winter's reductions in greenhouse emissions are good news there is an unfortunate irony as this is because of unseasonably warm winter. Reducing demand is an important step in cutting our greenhouse emissions but we also need to change the way we produce energy.

"Significantly slowed economic growth rates are likely to have eased pressure on emissions growth," said Posner.

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