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4613.0 - Australia's Environment: Issues and Trends, Jan 2010  
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Contents >> Atmosphere >> Greenhouse gases

This document was added 02/05/2010.



GREENHOUSE GASES

NET GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS, KYOTO ACCOUNTING
Graph: Net greenhouse gas emissions, Kyoto accounting


Base year
1995
2000
2004
2005
2006
2007

Net emissions (Mt CO2-e)
547.7
503.5
552.7
564.7
584.2
596.1
597.2
% of base year emissions
100
91.9
100.9
103.1
106.7
108.8
109.0

Note: Kyoto-based estimates of Australia's net greenhouse gas emissions, expressed in millions of tonnes (Mt) of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2-e). CO2-e provides the basis for comparing the warming effect of different greenhouse gases.
Source: Department of Climate Change, 2009, National Greenhouse Gas Inventory May 2009; Department of Climate Change, 2008, The Australian Government's Initial Report under the Kyoto Protocol: Revised Submission to the UNFCCC Secretariat.


By signing the Kyoto Protocol in 2007, Australia agreed to stabilise its emissions (for the five-year commitment period of 2008 to 2012) at no more than 108% of its 1990 (base year) emissions level.

Based on the 1990 emissions estimate, Australia’s Kyoto target was set at 591.5 Mt CO2-e/yr.

Australia’s net greenhouse gas emissions in 2007 totalled 597.2 million tonnes (Mt) carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2-e). Therefore, in order to meet its Kyoto target for 2008 to 2012, Australia will have to lower its emissions slightly from the 2007 level.

Australia’s Department of Climate Change also produces national greenhouse gas emissions estimates according to the guidelines of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). UNFCCC emissions reporting differs from Kyoto Protocol reporting because the UNFCCC method includes all emissions from the land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF) sector, while the Kyoto method excludes LULUCF emissions that result from natural events.

NET GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS BY SECTOR

Graph: Net greenhouse gas emissions by sector
Note: “Other sectors” include industrial processes, waste and solvent and other product use.
(a) Land use, land use change and forestry (Kyoto-accounting).
Source: Department of Climate Change, 2009, National Greenhouse Gas Inventory May 2009.


The greenhouse gases regulated under the Kyoto Protocol are carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs) and sulphur hexafluoride (SF6). Emissions of different greenhouse gases may be compared by converting them to carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2-e).

Of all the greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide is the one Australia emits in the largest quantities. In 2007, Australia’s net greenhouse gas emissions were 597.2 million tonnes (Mt) CO2-e. Carbon dioxide accounted for 75% of that total. Methane accounted for 20%, nitrous oxide for 4% and HFCs, PFCs and SF6 for 1% (Endnote 1).

The energy sector was the primary source of greenhouse gases emitted by Australia in 2007, accounting for more than two-thirds (68%) of Australia’s total greenhouse gas emissions (by the Kyoto accounting method). Emissions from this sector rose by 43% between 1990 and 2007. Of the energy sector’s total emissions in 2007, 91% were CO2. This represented 83% of Australia’s total CO2 emissions for 2007 (Endnote 1).

The agriculture sector provided the second-greatest contribution to Australia’s net greenhouse gas emissions in 2007. Emissions from this sector totalled 88.1 Mt CO2-e, or 15% of Australia’s net emissions. The agriculture sector emitted 57% and 81% of Australia’s CH4 and N2O emissions, respectively, in 2007 (Endnote 1).

The land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF) sector was responsible for a net total of 56.0 Mt CO2-e (or 9% of Australia’s total emissions) in 2007. This was a decrease of 57% compared to 1990.
CARBON DIOXIDE EMISSIONS PER CAPITA, SELECTED OECD COUNTRIES, 2007
Graph: Carbon dioxide emissions per capita, selected OECD countries, 2007
Source: International Energy Agency, Key World Energy Statistics 2009.


Carbon dioxide (CO2) was Australia’s most common greenhouse gas in 2007, accounting for 75% of national net emissions (Endnote 2).

While Australia only accounts for around 1.4% of global emissions of CO2 (Endnote 3), its emissions per person are relatively high compared with other OECD countries. In 2007, 18.75 tonnes of CO2 were emitted for every Australian, compared with an OECD country average of 10.97 tonnes per person. Many large economies, including Japan (9.68 tonnes/person) and the United Kingdom (8.6 tonnes/person), had significantly lower per capita CO2 emissions than Australia in 2007.

Of the OECD countries, only Luxembourg (22.35 tonnes/person) and the United States (19.1 tonnes/person) had higher per capita CO2 emissions than Australia. However, some of the major oil exporting nations such as the United Arab Emirates (29.91 tonnes/capita) also had very high per capita emissions.

Australia’s relatively high per capita emissions rate can be attributed to factors such as the high usage of coal in electricity generation, the energy intensive aluminium smelting sector, and the high dependence on motor vehicles and trucks for transport.

GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS INDEXES; TOTAL, PER CAPITA AND PER $GDP

Graph: Greenhouse gas emissions indexes; total, per capita and per $GDP
Note: Index displays emissions as a percentage of emissions in 1990 (Kyoto Protocol base year).
(a) GDP is a chain volume measure; reference year 2007–08.



Emissions (Mt CO2-e)
Tonnes CO2-e/capita
kg CO2-e/$ GDP

1990
547.7
32.1
0.83
1993
503.2
28.5
0.73
1996
504.9
27.6
0.65
1999
537.0
28.4
0.60
2002
567.0
28.9
0.58
2005
584.2
28.6
0.54
2007
597.2
28.3
0.51

Source: ABS, 2008, Australian Historical Population Statistics 2008 (cat. no. 3105.0.65.001); ABS, 2009, Australian Demographic Statistics June 2009 (cat. no. 3101.0); ABS, 2009, Australian National Accounts, National Income, Expenditure and Product September 2009 (cat. no. 5206.0); Department of Climate Change, 2009, National Greenhouse Gas Inventory May 2009.


The greenhouse gas emissions intensity of the Australian economy, expressed as emissions per dollar of GDP, declined by 38% over the period 1990 to 2007, from 0.83 to 0.51 kg of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions (CO2-e). The falling trend in emissions per unit of GDP reflects (Endnote 4):
  • specific emissions management activities across sectors
  • a decline in net land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF) emissions over the period
  • stronger growth in the services sector of the Australian economy, as opposed to the more energy-intensive manufacturing sector.


Australia reduced its per capita greenhouse gas emissions by 12% over the period 1990 to 2007 (from 32.1 tonnes CO2-e per capita in 1990 to 28.3 tonnes CO2-e per capita in 2007). Despite this reduction, Australia continues to emit a large volume of greenhouse gases per capita, in comparison to other OECD countries (see previous page for CO2 emissions comparisons). Australia’s high per capita emissions reflect a number of factors (Endnote 4):
  • the dominance of coal as a fuel in the electricity industry
  • the presence of net emissions from the LULUCF sector
  • the production in Australia of many goods with high associated emission levels, which are later exported.


ENDNOTES


1. Department of Climate Change, 2009, National Inventory Report 2007 Volume 1.
2. Department of Climate Change, 2009, National Inventory Report 2007 Volume 1; National Greenhouse Gas Inventory May 2009.
3. Carbon dioxide emissions only (excluding other greenhouse gases).
4. Australian Greenhouse Office, 2007, National Greenhouse Gas Inventory 2005.

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