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Environment & Energy FAQs
 

Q. What environmental statistics does the ABS produce?
Q. Who else produces environmental statistics in Australia?
Q. How much water is used in Australia?
Q. How is most of the water used in Australia?
Q. How much water is used by agriculture in the Murray-Darling Basin?
Q. What effect has the drought had on agricultural water consumption?
Q. How many households have a rainwater tank?
Q. What are environmental accounts?
Q. Why do we need environmental accounts?
Q. What environmental accounts has the ABS produced?
Q. How does the ABS measure Australia's energy industry?
Q. How big is Australia's electricity and gas activity?
Q. How do households power their homes?
Q. Are Australians concerned about the environment?
Q. How much do Australian farmers spend on managing their land?
Q. What are the most common items recycled by households?
Q. What percentage of Australian households have a motor vehicle?
Q. What percentage of Australian households have a bicycle?
Q. What percentage of households use public transport to get to work or study?


Q. What environmental statistics does the ABS produce?

A. The ABS produces a wide variety of environmental statistics, ranging from water use and natural resource management activity to people's environmental views and practices and energy accounts. See the ABS catalogue for a list: What environmental publications has the ABS released?

Q. Who else produces environmental statistics in Australia?

A. The ABS is one of many organisations that produce information relating to the environment. Other major sources of data are the Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts, the Department of Climate Change and the Bureau of Meteorology.

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Q. How much water is used in Australia?

A. In 2004–05, water consumption in the Australian economy was 18,767 gigalitres, according to the ABS Water Account, 2004-05. (One gigalitre (GL) equals one thousand million litres, or a volume of approximately 444 Olympic swimming pools). The next ABS water account will be released in late 2010.


Q. How is most of the water used in Australia?

A. Agriculture was the major water user in 2004–05, accounting for nearly two-thirds (65%) of total water consumption in that year. Most agricultural water (91%) is used for irrigation of crops and pastures. In 2004–05, household water use was 11% of total water consumption. See Australia's Environment: Issues and Trends, 2007.

Q. How much water is used by agriculture in the Murray-Darling Basin?

A. In 2005-06, 7,720 gigalitres of water were consumed by the agriculture industry in the Murray-Darling Basin, equating to 66% of Australia's total water consumption for agriculture. In 2006-07 the figure for the Murray-Darling Basin had fallen to 4,772 gigalitres, representing 56% of the total water consumption for agriculture in Australia. See Water Use on Australian Farms, 2006-07.

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Q. What effect has the drought had on agricultural water consumption?

A. Australia's irrigation water use fell by 18% in 2007–08, compared to the previous year. Rice growers reported a substantial decrease in irrigation water use (down 89% on the previous year), as did cotton growers (down 64%). Irrigation water use in 2006-07 fell by 29% from the previous year with rice growers using 81% less, followed by cotton (down 50%). Agricultural water use tends to vary from year-to-year depending on the amount of rain that falls in each given year. See Water Use on Australian Farms, 2007-08.


Q. How many households have a rainwater tank?

A. More than one-fifth (21%) of households in Australia reported that they had a rainwater tank in March 2007. South Australia had by far the highest percentage of dwellings with a rainwater tank (40% in Adelaide and 75% in the rest of the state). Saving water was the main reason reported for installing a rainwater tank (by 42% of households). See Environmental Issues: People's Views and Practices, 2007.


Q. What are environmental accounts?
A. Environmental accounts bring together environmental and economic information in a common framework to measure the contribution of the environment to the economy, the impact of the economy on the environment, and the efficiency of the use of environmental resources within the economy. The ABS released an information paper to help inform users about the environmental accounts that it produces and compares them with other types of accounts. Information Paper: What are environmental accounts?

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Q. Why do we need environmental accounts?

A. Traditional measures of economic activity such as gross domestic product (GDP) and net domestic product (NDP) do not completely reflect the relationships between the economy and the environment. Specifically, the costs of environmental degradation and natural resource depletion are not charged against production. Australia also develops asset accounts to help design policies for better natural resource management.


Q. What environmental accounts has the ABS produced?

A. As of early 2010, the ABS has published several natural resource accounts and a monetary satellite account, including:

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Q. How does the ABS measure Australia's energy industry?

A. The annual ABS Economic Activity Survey provides financial data on the overall size of different industries, including electricity supply and gas supply in Australia (Produced as Australian Industry). In 2009, the ABS produced an alternative view of electricity and gas supply activity statistics to supplement the industry based economy-wide statistics. The alternative view provided physical output as well as financial statistics and incorporated gas extraction activity and gas transport activity as part of total gas supply estimates. See Alternative View of Electricity and Gas Supply Activity, 2006-07 to 2007-08).


Q. How big is Australia's electricity and gas activity?

A. In 2007-08 the total industry value added (IVA) of Australia's electricity supply activity was $15.6 billion and the total IVA of Australia's gas supply activity was $21.4 billion. There were 45,059 people employed in electricity supply activity in 2007-08 who were paid wages and salaries of $4.6 billion. Gas extraction, supply and transport employed 10,466 people in 2007-08 and had $1.6 billion in wages and salaries. See Alternative View of Electricity and Gas Supply Activity, 2006-07 to 2007-08).


Q. How do households power their homes?

A. Electricity is used by nearly every household in Australia (99.9%) and is the main source of energy for evens, cooktops, hot water systems and space heating. Solar energy use increased from 5% of households in 2002 to 8% in 2008, used primarily for heating water. See Environmental Issues: Energy Use and Conservation, March 2008.

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Q. Are Australians concerned about the environment?

A. In 2007–08, most Australians aged 18 and over (82%) were concerned about environmental problems. More than half of all Australians aged 18 and over (53%) believed the condition of the natural environment was deteriorating. Around three-quarters of the population (73%) were concerned about climate change. Almost nine out of ten people expressed concerned about water shortages (89%). See Environmental Views and Behaviour, 2007-08.


Q. How much do Australian farmers spend on managing their land?

A. Australian farmers spent $1,574 million controlling weeds in 2006–07, more than on pests ($768 million) and soil problems ($649 million) combined. See Natural Resource Management on Australian Farms, 2006-07.


Q. What are the most common items recycled by households?

A. In the 12 months to March 2009, 98% of Australian households participated in some form of recycling with paper/newspapers/cardboard the most recycled item (by 95% of households), followed by plastic bottles (94% of households), glass (93%) and plastic bags (90%). See Environmental Issues: Waste Management and Transport Use, 2009.

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Q. What percentage of Australian households have a motor vehicle?

A. The majority (92%) of households had at least one registered motor vehicle at their home in March 2009. See Environmental Issues: Waste Management and Transport Use, 2009.


Q. What percentage of Australian households have a bicycle?

A. Half of all households (50%) had at least one working bicycle. See Environmental Issues: Waste Management and Transport Use, 2009.


Q. What percentage of households use public transport to get to work or study?

A. In March 2009, 14% of people aged 18 years and over took public transport to work or full-time study. This is up from 12% in 2000. See Environmental Issues: Waste Management and Transport Use, 2009.

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