Queensland emissions boom threatens Australia’s CO2 target

Published 05:05 on March 10, 2016  /  Last updated at 11:03 on March 10, 2016  /  Asia Pacific, Australia  /  No Comments

Greenhouse gas emissions in Queensland are projected to rise 35% by 2030, jeopardising Australia’s chances of meeting its climate commitments, the Queensland state government said.

Greenhouse gas emissions in Queensland are projected to rise 35% by 2030, jeopardising Australia’s chances of meeting its climate commitments, the Queensland state government said.

The state saw CO2 emissions drop 16.3% between 2005-2013, but the trend is rapidly reversing as new fossil fuel projects come online and after the previous Liberal government eased regulations on land clearing.

Without new policies, the state’s GHG emissions will increase by more than a third over the next 15 years, with most of the growth coming before 2020, a report by the Queensland government said.

“Projected increases in baseline energy sector emissions are associated primarily with upstream Liquefied Natural Gas processing and the large electricity demand associated with gathering and transporting coal seam gas to the processing facilities at Curtis Island, as well as a reduction in the supply of competitively-priced gas for electricity generation and the repeal of the National Carbon Pricing Mechanism,” the report stated.

“The projected increases in baseline LULUCF sector emissions are primarily due to an increase in land clearing.”

Queensland accounts for about a quarter of Australia’s emissions, and ballooning GHG output in the northeastern state would make it much more difficult for the federal government to meet its target of cutting emissions 26-28% below 2005 levels by 2030.

If Australia is to meet the target, its 2030 emissions must be 80-90 million tonnes of CO2e lower in 2030 than they are projected to be in 2020.

But the expected increase in Queensland’s energy and land use sectors will add over 53 million tonnes a year by the end of next decade.

“The targets [the federal government] has set are not high enough and we should be doing our fair share, but even their weak targets will be impossible to meet with Queensland on its current trajectory,” Queensland Environment Minister Steven Miles said, according to the Guardian.

“They need to do more. The national government needs to bring in an appropriate policy mechanism to achieve the targets they’ve set,” he added, saying a cap-and-trade mechanism would be the best way to address the problem.

Separately, the ABC reported on Thursday that a farmer in Queensland’s Maranoa district has applied to the Clean Energy Regulator to earn carbon offsets under the Emissions Reductions Fund for opting to not clear his land.

Last month, the Australian Financial Review reported that federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt had turned down a request from Queensland to earmark ERF funds to help buck the land clearing trend.

A bill to limit land clearing is pending in the Queensland parliament, but emission levels have already skyrocketed since 2013.

By Stian Reklev – stian@carbon-pulse.com

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