The annual national greenhouse gas inventory update found Australia’s emissions for the year to September 2019 have declined by 15.4 per cent since the peak in the year to June 2007 and 13.1 per cent below emissions in 2005 – the baseline for the Paris Agreement.
In the year to September 2019, emissions per capita and the emissions intensity of the economy were at their lowest levels in 29 years, the report found.
Emissions per capita were lower than 1990 by 40.4 per cent while the emissions intensity of the economy was 62.7 per cent lower than in 1990.
Emissions from electricity generation fell for a third year in a row, down 2 per cent, while during the December quarter emissions in the National Electricity Market fell to their lowest level since records began in 2001.
But emissions generated by exports have increased 54 per cent on 2005 levels and are now 39.1 per cent of Australia’s total emissions.
Federal Energy and Emissions Reduction Minister Angus Taylor said while the Australian economy was “steadily decarbonising”, growth in Australia’s exports was putting “upward pressure” on emissions.
Australia is now the world’s biggest LNG exporter, with the industry estimated to be worth $50.4 billion in the year to September 2019.
“Our LNG exports are reducing global emissions by displacing more emissions-intensive fuels overseas,” Mr Taylor said.
He said despite the increase in gas export emissions, emissions per capita and the emissions intensity of the economy continued to fall to the lowest levels in nearly three decades.
“The government is taking real and meaningful action to reduce emissions and 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,” Mr Taylor said.
“Our commitment is achievable, balanced and responsible, and is part of co-ordinated global action to deliver a healthy environment for future generations while keeping our economy strong.”
Mr Albanese dug in on Sunday over government attacks on Labor’s zero net emissions pledge, claiming Australia could still export coal and meet it’s 2050 target without the need for putting a price on carbon.
He said it would still be possible for Australia to meet a zero net emissions target while also being “an energy exporting superpower”.
“The private sector have taken up the challenge which is there, because they recognise that action on climate change isn’t just a challenge, it’s an opportunity,” Mr Albanese told the ABC.
He said the future of thermal coal would be “determined by the market, and by international agreements”.
He also conceded the target would be economy wide, meaning industries such as agriculture would also have to reduce its emissions.
Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said Labor’s net emissions target was “reckless and irresponsible” and the government would finalise its position on emissions targets in time for the Glasgow summit.
“We’re focused on implementing our 2030 emissions reduction targets and the policies that are required to meet and beat that target,” he told Sky News Australia.
“If we make the wrong decisions here, not only would we be harming the Australian economy, we’d be harming Australian workers.”
Rob Harris is the National Affairs Editor for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, based at Parliament House in Canberra