Rising emissions to add pressure on Australia’s climate policy

Published 05:21 on July 6, 2015  /  Last updated at 05:21 on July 6, 2015  /  Asia Pacific, Australia  /  No Comments

International pressure on Australia to step up efforts to combat climate change is set to intensify, the Climate Council said, as fresh data showed the nation’s electricity-related GHG output has increased 4.3% in the 12 months since the carbon tax was repealed.

International pressure on Australia to step up efforts to combat climate change is set to intensify, the Climate Council said, as fresh data showed the nation’s electricity-related GHG output has increased 4.3% in the 12 months since the carbon tax was repealed.

The non-profit referred to findings by consultants Pitt & Sherry, set to be released later on Monday, showing emissions from electricity generation rose 6 million tonnes in the 12 months to June 30 compared to the previous year.

In the years before the repeal, emissions had steadily decreased.

“The news that emissions have gone up in Australia will do little to counter the impression that Australia is acting as a ‘free rider’ on the back of other countries’ efforts,” Climate Council CEO Amanda McKenzie said in a statement.

“Some of Australia’s biggest trading partners such as the US and China have already expressed doubt about Australia’s domestic climate policies and whether it is doing enough to contribute the worldwide effort to tackle climate change,” she said.

Australia, along with Canada, received some of the toughest questions when UN member states recently reviewed the climate policies of developed nations.

Pitt & Sherry’s findings are not surprising – the consultancy publishes data on emissions from the National Electricity Market (NEM) every month, but the latest report confirms that annualised emissions continue to climb on a monthly basis.

Much of the increase is due to brown coal – cheaper without a carbon tax – is coming back online, replacing hydro from reservoirs that were tapped aggressively under the carbon tax because companies owning them expected the price on carbon to be short-lived.

The new report comes just a week or two before the government is expected to announce the post-2020 emissions target it will take to the year-end climate conference in Paris.

Environment Minister Greg Hunt has said the target will be credible and there is increasing speculation that some in the government want to set a target aligned with the US pledge to cut emissions 26-28% below 2005 levels by 2025, although some observers remain unconvinced some of the more conservative members of Cabinet will sign on to that.

By Stian Reklev – stian@carbon-pulse.com

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