Contribution to global warming by Australia

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Australia has one of the highest per capita emissions of carbon dioxide in the world, with 0.3% of the world's population it produces 1.8% of the world's greenhouse gases. It was 18.3 tonnes per year per person and the 11th highest in the world per capita in 2009. Australia uses principally coal power (70%) for electricity, with the remainder mainly gas, with no nuclear, low levels of hydro power, and low, but increasing, levels of solar, wind and wave power.

Total contribution[edit]

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%.[1]

Cumulative historical contribution[edit]

The World Resources Institute estimates that Australia was responsible for 1.1% of all CO2 emissions between 1850 and 2002.[2] This is about 3 times larger than Australia's share of global population, roughly a third of a percent as of 2013.

Projected contribution[edit]

According to the no-mitigation scenario in the Garnaut Climate Change Review, Australia's share of world emissions, at 1.5% in 2005, declines to 1.1% by 2030, and to 1% by 2100.[3] There is currently no policy framework for reducing emissions at a national level in Australia, with the Federal conservatives dismissing the recent IPPC special report on keeping temperatures below 1.5C as "some kind of report by some people".

Measuring production vs consumption of carbon products[edit]

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.[4]

Hydrocarbon Exports[edit]

Coal is forecast to be Australia’s largest export earner at $58.1 billion in 2018-19, according to the latest commodity forecast from the Department of Industry’s Office of the Chief Economist.[5] Globally, Australia ranks #15 on the country list of greenhouse gas emissions (1.28%). [6]

See also[edit]