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Greenhouse gas emissions were driven by an increase of 17.6% in natural gas production. Photograph

Gas boom fuels Australia’s third straight year of rising emissions

LNG was major contributor to 1.5% rise in year to December 2017, government data shows

WT24 Desk

Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions continue to soar, increasing for the third consecutive year according to new data published by the Department of Environment and Energy, The Guardian reports.

The Turnbull government published new quarterly emissions data late on Friday which reveals Australia’s climate pollution increased by 1.5% in the year to December 2017.

The expansion in LNG exports and production is identified as the major contributor to the increase, but the data shows a jump in emissions across all sectors – including waste, agriculture and transport – except for electricity, the one area that recorded a decrease in emissions.

In particular, the department’s data shows a 10.5% increase in fugitive emissions from the production, processing, transport, storage, transmission and distribution of fossil fuels such as coal, crude oil and natural gas, driven by an increase of 17.6% in natural gas production.

It comes at a time when the government has been pressuring states and territories to lift bans on fracking for new unconventional gas development and just weeks after the Northern Territory announced it would end its ban on fracking.

Publication of the data also comes after Australia recorded its hottest and driest April in 21 years.

Australia’s emissions levels are now higher than they were in 2012 and have climbed 3.6% since the carbon price was repealed in 2014.

Between 2007 and 2013, under the previous federal government, carbon pollution declined by more than 11%.

The Australian Conservation Foundation said on Monday it was embarrassing that a developed country such as Australia was recording rising climate pollution, and the Turnbull government was failing on climate policy.

“This data confirms pollution is rising from transport, industry and gas production because there is no plan from Canberra to replace burning polluting coal, oil and gas with clean energy,” the ACF’s Gavan McFadzean said.

“The federal budget contained no new money to incentivise industry and landowners to clean-up their act. The Climate Change Authority will be worse off to the tune of $550,000. Yet there is money for miners: the diesel fuel rebate remains in place.”

The organisation also questioned why the government was years behind markets such as the United States and Canada in the introduction of tougher pollution standards for vehicles.

Labor’s climate change and energy spokesman, Mark Butler, said seasonally adjusted data showed emissions jumped by 0.83% in just the last quarter alone.

“Yet, just last week, Malcolm Turnbull’s government delivered a budget which has no policy to drive down pollution and combat climate change,” he said.

“Acting on climate change is not a priority – it is not even on the agenda – for this out-of-touch government.”

Blair Palese, 350.org Australia’s CEO, said “with numbers like these, Australia may as well not be signed up to Paris to act on climate because we’re making no progress at all.”

“We can blame the federal government’s inability to stand up to fossil fuel interests and its failure to give any meaningful support to renewable energy for Australia’s increasing emissions.”

Matthew Doman, director at the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association (APPEA) said it was not surprising that the industry’s emissions profile had grown alongside an increase in production.

“The report highlights that the growth in emissions from gas production is less than the growth in gas production,” he said.

“This highlights that the emissions intensity of Australian gas production is declining as the industry becomes more efficient and improves its carbon performance.”

He said the industry managed fugitive emissions in a range of ways, including through the use of “green completions”, a process that captures and filters out impurities from wells instead of burning them off.

Comment has been sought from the minister for environment and energy, Josh Frydenberg.

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