Emissions from electricity generation are down 1.15 per cent on the previous year, with generation from renewables up more than 20 per cent in the past quarter alone.
However, the carbon dioxide equivalent output from stationary energy and fugitive emissions – driven by the growth in LNG production in Western Australia and Queensland – rose 3.6 per cent and 4.44 per cent respectively
LNG creates emissions at the well head when gas is extracted, in pipelines during transportation, and in the liquefaction process.
Energy and Emissions Reduction Minister Angus Taylor said the Morrison government had made headway on meeting its commitment under the Paris agreement, which requires Australia to cut emissions by 26 per cent on 2005 levels.
“New data highlighted in the report reveals that emissions are lower than when the Coalition came into government and are at their lowest level since 2015-16,” Mr Taylor said.
“The government welcomes these developments as we deliver our $3.5 billion Climate Solutions Package, which maps out to the last tonne how we will meet our 2030 Paris target.”
Climate Council senior researcher Tim Baxter said the latest emissions figures showed Australia was not on track over the long term to meet its Paris target.
“The suffering of Australia’s farmers, and hard work of renewable sector, has for the first time in years managed to offset competing growth in emissions from LNG, but this is a temporary blip,” Mr Baxter said.
“The growth expected in LNG, and the stalling in renewable energy, and the eventual end of drought, will mean Australia’s growth in emissions will return to their increases year on year – absent of government policy.”
Renewables investment fell by 60 per cent this year, according to figures from the Clean Energy Council.
The Industry Department forecast LNG exports would reach a record $52.1 billion this year, up from $30.9b in 2017-18.
Australia’s national emissions were 610.6 million tonnes carbon dioxide equivalent in 2005, hit a low of 528 mt in 2016, and have remained between 533mt and 532mt since 2017.
Mike is the climate and energy correspondent for The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald.