Aust Institute gives emissions claims the third degree

EPA, emissions, investment, CCS

Despite improvement in electricity sector, new research from The Australia Institute shows there is no doubt that national greenhouse gas emissions are in fact climbing, confirming a 26 per cent reduction target for the electricity sector is not high enough.

The Australia Institute Climate & Energy Program has released the December National Energy Emissions Audit, authored by renowned energy expert Dr Hugh Saddler, covering emissions in the electricity sector over the previous month of November.

Key findings:

  • Electricity sector emissions are trending downwards, however, these reductions have been swamped by rises in emissions in transport (23 per cent since 2005), stationary energy (21 per cent since 2005), and fugitive energy (41 per cent since 2005).
  • Renewable energy generation (currently at record levels of 22.9 per cent) may actually be higher than reported by AEMO, as their calculations do not include the significant amount of landfill gas and rooftop solar energy – both growing sectors.
  • The bulk of new wind and solar energy coming online is predominantly displacing gas generation, rather than coal.

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Author of the report Dr Hugh Saddler says there is no doubt that national greenhouse gases are climbing, and have been since the removal of the carbon price.

“While it is good to see that electricity sector emissions are reducing, these have been almost completely offset by [increases] in all other sectors.

“If the sector is indeed going to reach their 26 per cent target eight years ahead of schedule – as claimed by Minster for Energy Angus Taylor … electricity clearly has the ability to reduce emissions more effectively and at lower cost than in other sectors, such as agriculture, where abatement options are fewer and more costly, and therefore should carry more of the emissions reduction load with a higher target.

“We are consistently seeing that renewables are growing in popularity and are more cost effective and reliable than building new coal power.

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“The duplicity in the government’s attitude toward emissions reduction, and overt boosterism of the fossil fuel industry, is not doing Australians any favours.

“If the government is serious about tackling Australia’s rising greenhouse gas emissions, transitioning away from coal fired power should be of the utmost priority.

“.. Reductions would be stronger if the renewables now joining the grid were displacing coal generation, instead they are displacing gas – raising serious uncertainties about the role that gas could or will play in the transition to a zero emission electricity system.”