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Australian petroleum emissions down just 1.3 per cent in past year

03 December 2009

Greenhouse gas emissions from Australian petroleum use fell by 1.6 million tonnes or 1.3 per cent over the past 12 months according to a new report released today by The Climate Group. However, the fall was on the back of more substantial growth of 2.9 per cent the previous year (or 3.4 million tonnes) and came during the global financial crisis which curtailed economic growth and dampened consumer confidence.

The Greenhouse Indicator Annual Petroleum Report tracks emissions from petroleum-based fuels across Australia during the 12 months from October 2008 - September 2009, and compares these with similar figures for the previous two years.

Total greenhouse emissions from petroleum fuels totalled 120.7 million tonnes this year or 20 per cent of Australia's total emissions according to the report. Automotive petrol saw the biggest absolute decrease in use and emissions of any fuel, despite a fall in price of between 14 - 16 per cent. During the last two years, petrol's share of the fuels market has decreased by almost two per cent, with diesel's share of the market rising by a similar amount.

Rupert Posner, Australia Director of The Climate Group said that this year's dip in emissions was likely to be temporary:

"While it is good news that petroleum emissions have fallen this year, unfortunately, one of the main reasons for this is likely to be the global financial crisis, rather than any substantial changes in the way we are using petroleum products. This means that even this small decline in emissions is likely to be temporary and will be reversed once markets pick up again."

Mr. Posner emphasised that petroleum emissions needed to start falling more substantially:

"There is no doubt that we need to see emissions from all sources falling much more quickly and this will involve changing our fuel-use habits. The good news is that we already know that this is possible. We have seen some inspirational examples of companies cutting fuel use and reducing their emissions.

"Logistics company Linfox, for example, has made huge progress in just two years. Through better use of its vehicles and staff training in eco driving, Linfox has reduced fuel use by 15 per cent, despite a 20 per cent increase in the distance its drivers have travelled. These efforts have, of course, also meant lower costs for the company so make perfect sense. This report shows that Australia needs more Linfox's to step up and show leadership in this area."

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