Greenhouse Gas Emissions Fall In 2009 Across Australia's Eastern States

17 January 2010

Click here to download the full press release.

A new report has revealed that greenhouse gas emissions from energy-use in Australia's eastern states fell by 1.8 per cent in 2009. The Greenhouse Indicator Annual Report, released today by The Climate Group, shows that across Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland and South Australia, annual emissions were 5.3 million tonnes lower in 2009 than the previous year. This followed a rise in emissions of 1.3 per cent in 2008.

Now entering its fourth year, The Climate Group's Greenhouse Indicator tracks the main sources of greenhouse emissions in Australia - those produced by coal, natural gas and petroleum.

The biggest contributor to the fall in emissions was a decrease in the amount of electricity produced from coal. Coal generation fell by 3.1 per cent (or 5.5 million megawatt hours) resulting in 4.9 million tonnes less emissions than in 2008. Emissions from petroleum also fell by 0.8 per cent, or by 700,000 tonnes while emissions from gas rose by 240,000 tonnes.

Overall, electricity generation in 2009 was 1.9 per cent less than the previous year. This was partly due a fall in electricity demand of 0.6 per cent and also because of less surplus electricity being produced to meet demand from Tasmania. The overall carbon intensity of electricity production was virtually identical to 2008.

The fall in emissions occurred despite robust population growth in all four states of between 1.2 and 2.6 per cent. Despite the global financial crisis, each state also recorded overall growth in Gross State Product of between 0.2 and 1.4 per cent. However, the rate of growth was significantly less than in previous years, which will have relieved inflationary pressure on emissions levels.

With annual mean temperatures consistently above average, 2009 was the second warmest year on record in Australia. New maximum temperature records were set in numerous cities early in the year. The overall impact on emissions has been limited with lower demand for heating over winter being counter-balanced by more demand for air-conditioning during the warmer summer.

Emissions from energy-use were 9.6 per cent higher than in 2000.

Rupert Posner, Australia Director of The Climate Group, said:

"Any decrease in emissions is good news and 5.3 million tonnes is a substantial saving. If we were to continue to cut by this much each year, emissions from energy would be almost 20 per cent lower by 2020.

"Unfortunately, this isn't the whole story as low rates of growth have helped keep emissions down. As the economy returns to more robust levels of growth, continued reductions will be much harder to achieve unless we start to change the way we produce and use energy in a much more meaningful way.

"As the country with the highest per capita emissions in the world - we need to be doing much more to reduce our carbon footprint."

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