Contribution to global warming by Australia
Australia has one of the highest per capita emissions of carbon dioxide in the world. It was 18.3 tonnes per year per person and the 11th highest in the world per capita in 2009. Australia consists of 5.15% of the worlds land mass and contributes 1.8% of the worlds annual Green house gas production. If all the counties of the world had a population density similar to that of Australia the global production of Green house gas would be reduced to 78.64% of current production levels. Conversely, if every person in the world produced the same as each Australian, the world would produce approximately 560% more Green house gas emissions. Australia uses principally coal power (70%) for electricity, with zero nuclear power production, and low levels of hydro power.
The Australian government estimates that Australia's net emissions in 2006 were 576 million tonnes CO2-equivalent, to which the sectoral contributions were approximately as follows: energy sector, 70%; agriculture, 15%; other forms of land use, 7%; industrial processes 5%; waste, 3%.
Cumulative historical contribution
The World Resources Institute estimates that Australia was responsible for 1.1% of all CO2 emissions between 1850 and 2002. Australia has a correspondingly tiny share of the global population, roughly a third of a percent as of 2013.
Analysis of Australia's high emissions
Some of the reasons for Australia's high levels of emissions include:-
- Australia smelts Aluminium, which is then exported and used elsewhere. This accounts for some 15% of electricity consumed.
- Australia has no nuclear power, very limited hydro electricity (4%), and minimal geothermal opportunities. 77% of electricity comes from coal, and 15% from gas.
- A warm climate results in high use of air conditioning but limited needs for heating.
- The effect of agriculture.
Measuring production vs consumption of carbon products
The import and export of goods confounds equitable measurements of emissions, particularly in the context of endeavouring to reach a global agreement on emissions reduction based on contraction and convergence. Australian emissions are monitored on a production rather than a consumption basis. This means that the emissions from the manufacture of goods imported into and consumed within Australia, for example many motor vehicles, are allocated to the country of manufacture. Similarly, Australia produces aluminium for export which requires substantial amounts of electricity which is produced by greenhouse gas emitting coal-fired power stations. While the aluminium is mainly consumed overseas, the emissions of its production are allocated to Australia. Geoff Carmody argues we need a consumption based emissions trading scheme.
Australia is a major user as well as exporter of coal, particularly from Newcastle, New South Wales. The coal is produced from coal mining in Australia. The greenhouse gas emissions in other countries from the proposed increase in coal export capacity of the major Australian ports will greatly outweigh the proposed reductions in Australia's emissions from the introduction of the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme. While Australia imposes safeguards on the export of uranium, it does not impose any requirements for carbon capture and storage of greenhouse gas emissions of exported coal. Australia thus contributes substantially more to the global warming which, according to the Garnaut Climate Change Review will lead to the destruction of the Great Barrier Reef, Kakadu and the Murray Darling Basin as they have existed during recorded history to date.
- Effects of global warming on Australia
- Adaptation to global warming in Australia
- Mitigation of global warming in Australia
- CPRS White Paper, Chapter 6, page 3.
- Navigating the Numbers: Greenhouse Gas Data and International Climate Policy, Chapter 6, Figure 6.1.
- Garnaut Climate Change Review, Chapter 3, Table 3.2.
- It's no contest - we need an ETS based on consumption, Geoff Carmody Director, Geoff Carmody & Associates, Retrieved 27 December 2008.
- http://www.eia.doe.gov/oiaf/ieo/pdf/table8.pdf Retrieved 27 December 2008
- http://www.eia.doe.gov/oiaf/analysispaper/global/exporters.html Retrieved 27 December 2008