Greenhouse gas emissions up in 2016

Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions rose in 2016, despite falls across the electricity and transport sectors.


The latest update, published on Friday, reported an overall increase of 1.4 per cent in the year to December compared to 2015.

Fugitive emissions – gases or vapours that leak during the production, processing, transport, storage and distribution of fossil fuels – accounted for the biggest increase, rising six per cent over the 12 months.

That was largely driven by an increase in natural gas production with new LNG facilities coming online.

There was also a spike in emissions (4.6 per cent) from stationary energy – namely petroleum refining, fuels used in manufacturing and domestic heating.

Agriculture, waste and industrial sectors also recorded increases in emissions.

Electricity generation remains the largest source of emissions in Australia, accounting for 35 per cent even after a 0.3 per cent reduction in 2016.

“This decrease was partially driven by weakening demand in the national electricity market,” said the quarterly update on Australia’s national greenhouse accounts.

The Climate Council says the rise in emissions should serve as an embarrassment to the federal government.

“This is clear evidence that Australia is failing to tackle climate change compared to superpowers like the United States, whose emissions fell last year, and China, which has peaked its emissions more than a decade earlier than it promised in Paris,” scientists Will Steffen said in a statement.

The report card showed Australia hadn’t seen a decrease in emissions since the March 2015 quarter.

“It’s clear that this isn’t just a once off – this trend is now reaching disappointing new heights,” Professor Steffen said.