CO2 emissions from electricity generation in Australia have gone up 5.5% since the government repealed the country’s carbon price in July 2014, as cheap coal has taken an increasingly large share in the energy mix, analysts said Thursday.
Coal accounted for 76.1% of Australian electricity generation in the year to Mar. 2016, according to a monthly market update by consultants Pitt & Sherry, compared to 72.3% in the 12 months before the coalition government removed the carbon pricing mechanism in 2014.
“Total emissions from electricity generation in the [national electricity market] increased again in the year to March 2016. Annual emissions were 5.5% higher than in the year to June 2014,” the report said.
Coal-fired generation fell steadily during the carbon pricing period but has picked up since, as generators no longer have to pay for their CO2 emissions.
The trend has been aided by a general turnaround in the market. Electricity demand has now increased thirteen months in a row after years of decline, and the new demand is primarily being met with coal.
In addition, a shift away from hydraulic drives to using electric motor pumps in Queenland’s coal seam gas fields has added about 5 million tonnes to Australia’s annual CO2 emissions, according to the report.
“The projected full increase in electricity demand from coal seam gas production will add about 8 million tonnes CO2e per year to Australia’s emissions, unless there is a shift away from coal to lower emission sources of electricity,” said the report.
The report came as broadcaster ABC on Thursday reported, citing government sources, that Australia will sign the Paris Agreement in New York on Apr. 22.
Under the agreement, Australia has pledged to cut its GHG emissions by 26-28% below 2005 levels by 2030.
Some analysts say Australia’s emissions will continue to grow well into the next decade unless the government reins in coal use, as new LNG facilities and coal mines will continue to drive higher demand for electricity.
By Stian Reklev – firstname.lastname@example.org
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