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 gasses. 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] Australia has a correspondingly tiny share of the 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]

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]

Indirect contribution[edit]

Australia is a major user as well as exporter of coal, particularly from Newcastle, New South Wales.[5] 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.

Australia is also a major exporter of liquefied natural gas, another fossil fuel.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ CPRS White Paper, Chapter 6, page 3.
  2. ^ Navigating the Numbers: Greenhouse Gas Data and International Climate Policy, Chapter 6, Figure 6.1.
  3. ^ Garnaut Climate Change Review, Chapter 3, Table 3.2.
  4. ^ It's no contest - we need an ETS based on consumption, Geoff Carmody Director, Geoff Carmody & Associates, Retrieved 27 December 2008.
  5. ^ Retrieved 27 December 2008
  6. ^ Retrieved 27 December 2008