4653.0 - Environment and Energy News, Nov 2004  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 02/12/2004   
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The Environment and Energy Statistics Section (EESS) of the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) is a multi-disciplinary team involved in the research and analysis of environmental and energy issues based on ABS and non-ABS data.

Since its inception in June 1991, the Section's scope has progressively expanded and advances made into new areas of environment statistics. Notable achievements include:
  • The publication of popular time series on household data which covers people's concerns, attitudes and behaviour on water, energy, transport and waste.
  • Work accomplished in the area of environment protection expenditure (EPE) and environmental resource accounting.
  • The publication of a number of well received compendiums presenting current environmental data.
  • Advice to statistical agencies in other countries (e.g. China and the Philippines) on the establishment of various environmental statistics collections, including EPE, Household Surveys and Environmental Accounts.
  • Participation on national and international committees.

Staff in EESS have experience in researching and collating data from various sources for publication. Various products and services, such as consultancy and user funded data gathering, are available if other priorities permit. Data can be customised to suit specific requirements.


The ABS Environment Statistics Newsletter features news and developments in relation to work done by EESS. If you would like to be placed on our free electronic mailing list, please contact Apolonio Basilio via email and leave your address details.

Apolonio Basilio
Environment & Energy Statistics Section, 4S 415
Australian Bureau of Statistics
Locked Bag No. 10, BELCONNEN ACT 2617
Tel: (02) 6252 7433
Fax: (02) 6252 6470
apolonio.basilio@abs.gov.auENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES: PEOPLE'S VIEWS AND PRACTICES (cat. no. 4602.0) - NEW RELEASE - 24 NOV 2004

Environmental Issues: People's Views and Practices (cat. no. 4602.0) is an annual publication that provides data on environmental behaviour and practices of Australian households and individuals. The ABS has released ten editions of this publication since it was first produced in 1992. It is based on an annual survey of approximately 18,500 private dwellings that collects information from households on various environmental issues, developed in consultation with users. Topics are rotated every three years and are as follows:
  • Energy use and conservation (1994, 1999, 2002).
  • Waste management and transport use (1992, 1996, 2000, 2003).
  • Environmental concern and involvement; water source, use and conservation; use of environmentally products; and use of World Heritage Areas, National and State Parks (1994, 1998, 2001, 2004).

The main themes for the tenth edition of Environmental Issues: People's Views and Practices were environmental concern and involvement; water sources, use and conservation; use of environmentally friendly products; and use of World Heritage Areas, National and State Parks. Some of the main findings are presented below.

Environmental Concerns and Involvement

  • In 2004, 8.6 million Australians aged 18 years and over (57%) stated that they were concerned about environmental problems.
  • The level of concern about environmental problems has shown a continual decline since 1992, when three-quarters (75%) of Australians stated they had environmental concerns.
  • The Australian Capital Territory had the highest level of concern (69%) and the Northern Territory the lowest (46%).
  • Those aged between 45-54 years old expressed the most concern about environmental problems (65%), and those 65 years and over the least (47%).
  • In the 12 months prior to March 2004, almost 3 million Australians aged 18 years and over (one in five) donated time or money to help protect the environment. This proportion has remained unchanged since 1998. People in South Australia, Western Australia and the Australian Capital Territory were the most likely to donate time or money towards environmental protection (23%, 24% and 25% respectively).
  • In the 12 months prior to March 2004, 7% of Australians aged 18 years and over (over 1 million) formally registered an environmental concern either by writing a letter, telephoning, participating in a demonstration, signing a petition or some other means.

Water Sources, Use and Conservation
  • 93% of Australian households were connected to mains/town water in March 2004. 98% of households in capital cities were connected to mains/town water, compared with 85% of households outside of capital cities.
  • 80% of Australian households rely on mains/town water as their main source of water for drinking. This rises to 89% for households in capital cities, and drops to 67% for households outside capital cities.
  • Generally, there has been a steady increase in the levels of satisfaction with the quality of mains water for drinking across Australia, from 64% in 1994 to 70% in 2004. Taste (other than being salty) was the single largest problem identified by people dissatisfied with their drinking water (51%). Western Australians nominated this more than any other state (60%), and the Australian Capital Territory residents the least (40%).
  • 17% of households sourced water from a rainwater tank in 2004 (9% of households in capital cities and 31% of all other households). Nearly half of all households in South Australia (48%) sourced water from a rainwater tank, with 78% of households outside Adelaide using rainwater tanks.
  • 21% of households purchased bottled water in 2004 and 8% of households had it as their main source of drinking water. Between 1994 and 2004, the proportion of households that purchased bottled water increased from 3% to 21%.
  • 82% of households had a water conservation device inside their dwelling: 74% of households had dual flush toilets in 2004 (up from 39% in 1994 and 64% in 2001) and 44% of households had reduced flow shower heads (up from 22% in 1994 and 35% in 2001).
  • 47% of households engaged in water conservation practices in and around the dwelling. More than half of all households (nearly 54%) reported taking no water conservation steps in the home at all.
  • The most popular water conservation measures in the home included using full loads when washing dishes and clothes, and taking shorter showers (18% of households reported doing each of these).
  • Recycling and/or reusing water was reported by 16% of households, an increase from 11% in 2001. 28% of the Australian Capital Territory households recycled or reused water, an increase from 10% in 2001. These were also popular activities in Victoria and Western Australia (21%, increased from 14% in both states).
  • More than 90% of households with gardens reported taking measures in the garden to conserve water.
  • The measure reported most often by households to conserve water in the garden was using mulch (58% in 2004, up from 51% in 2001). New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory all reported large increases in the use of mulch as a water conservation measure.
  • Watering early in the morning or late in the evening was the second most popular water conservation measure for Australian gardens, at 23%. This was most favoured in South Australia (38%) and the Northern Territory (37%)
  • 18% of households used recycled water on the garden, a significant increase from 11% in 2001. States and territories that significantly increased their use of recycled water on the garden since 2001 included New South Wales (9% to 19%); Victoria (13% to 23%); and the Australian Capital Territory (7% to 26%).
  • In 2004, 71% of Australian households hand watered their garden, compared with 66% in 2001. There was a corresponding decrease in the use of fixed and movable sprinklers (from 28% in 2001 down to 15% in 2004 for movable sprinklers, and 31% down to 22% for fixed sprinkler systems).
  • States and territories that reported an increase in measures to conserve water in the garden since 2001 include New South Wales (86% to 90% of households); Victoria (90% to 93%); and South Australia (90% to 93%).

Use of Environmentally Friendly Products, Fertilisers and Pesticides
  • In 2004, almost nine in ten households in Australia (89%) reported that they purchase environmentally friendly products (EFPs). This was similar to 2001 (90%).
  • Recycled paper products (67% of households) and products with refillable containers (65% of households) were the EFPs most commonly purchased by Australian households.
  • Most EFPs showed a small decline in their usage, with the purchase of unbleached paper products showing the largest decline (from 63% in 1992 and 51% in 2001 to 46% in 2004).
  • Households in the Australian Capital Territory were most likely to purchase all types of EFPs except for organically grown fruit and vegetables.
  • Cost remains the most important reason why households do not buy EFPs and this reason has increased over time (31% in 1998; 36% in 2001 and 39% in 2004). This reason was most significant for single parent households (59%).
  • In 2004, nearly 3 million households (46%) reported they grow fruit or vegetables in their garden.
  • Most of these households (84%) reported that they used some form of fertilisers in this activity; 76% stated they used manure or compost and 40% used other fertilisers.
  • Nearly 29% of households used pesticides or weedkillers when growing fruit and vegetables in their gardens.

Use of World Heritage Areas, National and State Parks
  • In March 2004, nearly 8 million (52%) Australians aged 18 years and over reported that they had visited a World Heritage Area, National or State Park in the 12 months prior to the survey. This proportion is much less than in 1992 when almost two in three Australians (63%) had visited any one of these areas 12 months prior to the survey.
  • People who made a trip to these areas were most likely to be between the ages of 25 and 44 and belong to a household comprising of a couple with dependent children (61%). Least likely to visit a World Heritage Area or a park were persons aged 65 years and over (30%) and those belonging to a single person household (44%).
  • Since 1998, the main reason reported for not visiting a World Heritage Area, National or State Park was lack of time (36%-37%); followed by age/health/inability (17%).
  • People in Western Australia and the Northern Territory (60%) reported the highest level of visits to a World Heritage Area, National or State Park; and New South Wales the least (50%).

The next edition, due for release in November 2005, will focus on energy use and conservation in Australian homes. Comments on the 2006 topics of waste management and transport use will be sought early in the New Year. Users with an interest in this, or any of the other topics, can contact either Sarah or Apolonio.

Contact: Sarah Coleman or Apolonio Basilio
Email: sarah.coleman@abs.gov.au

Results from Environment Expenditure, Local Government, Australia 2002-03 (cat. no. 4611.0) were released in August 2004. Australian local government spending on measures to protect the environment increased to $2.6 billion during 2002-03, up 6% from 2000-01. Local government spending on natural resource management also increased to $1.9b (up 9%) over this period.

This was an average expenditure of $134 per person on environment protection and $99 per person on natural resource management activities.

The traditional council activities of solid waste management ($1.3b) and waste water treatment ($1b) were the major expenses for environment protection nationally. Water supply ($0.8b), and land management activities ($1.1b), were the main expenses for natural resource management.

Local government spent more on environment protection and natural resource management than revenue raised specifically for these activities. This meant that these measures were partially funded from general revenue sources.

For 2002-03, the Murray-Darling Basin Commission funded an expansion to the survey so that estimates could be produced at the Murray-Darling Basin level. The Murray-Darling Basin councils represent 31% of the small councils, 28% of the medium sized councils, and 4% of the large councils in Australia.

Results showed that relative to the rest of Australia, councils in the Murray-Darling Basin received and spent more per capita on environment protection and natural resource management activities in 2002-03. Total expenditure by councils in the Murray-Darling Basin for environment protection activities amounted to $284m, or nearly 11% of expenditure by councils in Australia. Expenditure on natural resource management activities by Murray-Darling Basin councils was $259m, or 13% of total natural resource management expenditure by councils in Australia

The estimates are useful to policy makers in state and Commonwealth governments, to local government associations, to local councils themselves as well as to any other parties interested in management of the environment by local government authorities. These estimates demonstrate that local government is a significant player in managing the nation's environment and natural resources.

Contact: Ron Just
Email: ron.just@abs.gov.au
DETAILED ENERGY STATISTICS, AUSTRALIA 2001-02 (cat. no. 4648.0.55.001)

New statistics on energy supply and use by Australian industry have been recently released by the ABS. The Energy Survey 2001-02, the first ABS survey on energy supply and use in Australia, collected data on energy use across the non-household sectors of the Australian economy. It covered a range of energy and fuel types including electricity, natural gas, petroleum products, coal and renewable energy. The survey also collected data on the supply of petroleum products, electricity and natural gas, and the associated conversion, transmission and distribution losses. Energy use data are available at a national and state level; supply data are available at a national level.

According to the results, published in Detailed Energy Statistics, Australia 2001-02 (cat. no. 4648.0.55.001), Australian industry used 1,959 PJ of energy for end-use purposes, and produced 216,316 GWh of electricity, 862,635 TJ of natural gas, 18,727 ML of petrol and 13,503 ML of diesel during 2001-02. Electricity generation used 53,576 kt of black coal, 65,075 kt of brown coal and 291,372 TJ of natural gas. Australian industry end-users of energy (that is, excluding conversion sectors such as electricity generation) used 136,499 GWh of electricity, 378,576 TJ of natural gas, 9,711 ML of diesel, and 4,469 ML of petrol during this period.

The main results of the ABS Energy Survey 2001-02 are available on this website together with additional information on supply and use of renewable energy, uses of petroleum products and electricity generated for own-use. Detailed spreadsheets, with all fuel types and a disaggregated industry breakdown, are also available for download.

Contact:Jaya Welhenage
Email: jaya.welhenage@abs.gov.au

The Water Account, Australia 2000-01 was released in May 2004. It contains information on the supply and use of water by all industries throughout Australia, with information available at the state/territory level. The publication includes supply/use tables which provide a break-down of the type of water (eg. Self-extracted, Mains, Reuse) used by different industries. In addition there are chapters dedicated to major industries like: Water supply, Agriculture, Mining, Manufacturing, Electricity and Gas as well as Households.

Main findings
  • In 2000-01 a total of 24,909 GL was consumed in the Australian economy.
  • Agriculture consumed the largest volume of water with 16,660 GL, representing 67% of water consumption in Australia in 2000-01. The largest consumers of water within the agriculture industry were livestock, pasture, grains and other agriculture (5,568 GL), cotton (2,908 GL), dairy farming (2,834 GL) and rice (1,951 GL) industries.
  • Excluding in-stream use, water consumption by the electricity and gas supply industry in 2000-01 was 1,688 GL or 7% of water consumption in Australia.
  • Water consumption by the household sector was 2,181 GL in 2000-01 accounting for 9% of water consumption in Australia. This compares with 1,829 GL in 1996-97 where water accounted for 8% of water consumption.
  • In 2000-01, the manufacturing industry consumed 866 GL or 4% of total water consumption in Australia.
  • The mining industry consumed 401 GL or 2% of water consumption in Australia in 2000-01.
  • Water consumption for the remaining industries was 859 GL in 2000-01 representing 3% of water consumption in Australia. The cultural, recreational and personal services industry accounted for 46% (or 832 GL) of water consumption by the remaining industries.
  • The use of reuse water has increased dramatically from 134,424 ML in 1996-97 to 516,563 ML in 2000-01.
  • Increases in reuse water use occurred in most industries between 1996-97 and 2000-01. The greatest increase in reuse water use was in the agriculture industry, where reuse water use increased from 38,118 ML in 1996-97 to 423,264 ML in 2000-01.
  • Reuse water made up 4% of total water supplied by water providers in 2000-01. This compares to 1% in 1996-97.
  • In 2000-01 there were 479 water providers in Australia, collectively supplying 12,784 GL of mains water. This volume was 11% higher than in 1996-97.
  • Surface water is by far the greatest source of water for the water supply, sewerage and drainage services industry, with 12,042 GL or 94% of total mains water being derived from this source in 2000-01.

After the Water Account, Australia 2000-01 was released, some errors were detected in the published data and a corrigendum was released in November 2004 to correct these errors. The publication (charges apply) and the corrigendum can also be accessed from this website.

A number of improvements to the water account are planned. To provide for higher quality, more frequent and more detailed water accounts, annual surveys of the following sectors are scheduled from next year onwards: local governments; other water providers; and use of water in the mining, manufacturing and electricity & gas industries.

The next edition of the Water Account, Australia will be in respect of 2004-05. It is anticipated that this account will be released in 2006-07.

Contact: Bernard Morrison
Email: bernard.morrison@abs.gov.au
WATER USE ON AUSTRALIAN FARMS (cat. no. 4618.0) - NEW RELEASE - Expected March 2005

The 2003 Water Survey - Agriculture was developed in response to the need for nationally comparable information on water use and water management on Australian farms. The survey was run in 2003-04 and the results should be published as "Water Use on Australian Farms" (cat. no. 4618.0) in March 2005.

The Agriculture sector accounts for 67% of total water use in Australia, consequently a sound understanding of how much, for what purpose and where water is used in Agriculture is essential. The ABS is the only provider of nationally consistent data on water supply and use and the results of the survey will increase the accuracy, timeliness and comparability of water use by the agricultural sector nationally and at state and region levels.

There is strong and growing demand for nationally comparable water use and water management data. Survey results will be useful for water policy development, and in particular balancing the economic and environmental aspects of water use. A feature of the survey is that it can be linked to agricultural production data from the 2002-03 Agriculture Survey.

Contact: Cherie Poulton
Email: c.poulton@abs.gov.au

The Water Statistics User Group (WSUG) had its inaugural meeting in August. The group was established to advise the ABS on priorities relating to the collection and dissemination of data relating to water. A draft Water Information Development Plan (IDP) was presented to the group and circulated more widely for comment. IDPs are being developed by the ABS as a method of identifying information gaps and the possible duplication of information gathering by government agencies, industry associations and others. This helps the ABS and others understand the current information sources and how they could be improved and expanded.

Contact: Michael Vardon
Email: michael.vardon@abs.gov.au

The ABS is in the process of establishing a Centre for Environment and Energy Statistics located within Central Office in Canberra. After preliminary discussions with a number of Commonwealth agencies, the broad aim of CEES is to provide greater coordination and leadership in the field of environment and energy of statistics. To begin with the core work program of the CEES has been largely carried over from the current ABS Environment and Energy Program.

Aims of the CEES

CEES will also work with other agencies to:
  • Provide leadership in Australia for the development of environment and energy statistics.
  • Coordinate statistical activities across the various sectors to develop frameworks and standards and improve data quality, comparability and coverage.
  • Improve the understanding of trends and current issues, particularly across sectors, through its own analysis, and by supporting analysis by others.

Role of the CEES

The establishment of CEES does not imply any change to the current roles and responsibilities by the key agencies (including the ABS) unless there is agreement by all concerned. The ABS will seek to complement and add value to the existing environmental statistical activity through an active partnership with the key agencies, including the states and territories, in the type of activity outlined below.
In collaboration with other agencies, the role of the CEES will be to:
  • Compile environmental accounts – water, energy and greenhouse gases (and perhaps other accounts in future years)
  • Research, develop and test new environment and energy surveys
  • Maintain and update elements of an Environment Information Development Plan (IDP), starting with water and energy.
  • Examine proposals for client-funded extensions to the ABS core work program.
  • Ensure that the Environment and Energy and the Agriculture Business Statistics Units effectively implement the survey strategies and questionnaire developed.
  • Compile a thematic publication


A CEES Advisory Board will be convened to integrate the work of CEES with other Commonwealth initiatives (including annual input to the CEES Forward Work Program).

The proposed board would comprise representatives of each of the following:
  • The Commonwealth Departments of PM&C, DAFF (including BRS and ABARE), DEH and DITR
  • State and Territory governments
  • National Land and Water Resources Audit (Chairman)
  • The Australian Greenhouse Office
  • The Murray Darling Basin Commission
  • The Productivity Commission
  • ABS (Australian Statistician).

Advisory Committees will be formed for each field or major survey area. These would have Commonwealth, State/Territory and other agencies representation. Their role would be to advise on priorities and for detailed input to work program and survey content. The first of these (Water Statistics User group) has already been established, while the NLWRA Advisory Council will advise on the ABS on natural resource management issues and priorities.

Contact: Bob Harrison
Email: bob.harrison@abs.gov.au

NRM is an important statistical area but current ABS activity is limited, owing to resource constraints. The ABS is seeking additional funding to conduct a biennial NRM survey to produce national, state and possibly broad regional (eg NAP or NHT region) estimates, commencing in 2005-06. The survey will be conducted using the agricultural survey population. If the funding is not forthcoming then it is likely that the ABS will use resources currently earmarked for the environment management survey to conduct the NRM survey. In the absence of additional funding for the NRM survey other changes to the environment statistics work program could also be expected.

Work is also proceeding on the development of a land parcel frame survey (ie using cadastres as the survey population) to support NRM statistics. NRM users have clearly and consistently identified the need for finer level spatial output. If a land parcel frame is used, then the design and output from the survey could be tailored to particular regions (e.g. NAP and NHT regions, water catchments). Because the survey would be based on land parcels rather than agricultural business, the survey would cover a range of units not covered by the agricultural survey - e.g. those not engaged in agricultural activity or with low levels of agricultural production. These units may be important in some regions (e.g. small blocks near major population centres) and for some specific issues (e.g. salinity or weed management). Due to differences in units it will be harder to link NRM and other environmental activities back to agricultural activities than it is between recent surveys (i.e. the Water Use Survey and Land Management and Salinity Survey). The land parcel survey would therefore need to collect some details about agricultural production. It may also collect a limited range of socioeconomic information about land managers. It is proposed that NRM surveys based on the land parcel approach would be user funded. NRM surveys using the land parcel approach are currently being trialled.

Contact: John Ovington
Email: john.ovington@abs.gov.au

In the short term the demand for environment and energy statistics from the ABS far out strips our ability to supply the required information. There are increasing expectations of the ABS to deliver information on a range of issues. Currently, we are planning to continue to collect and compile the following collections and environmental accounts:
  • Annual household surveys covering environmental attitudes and behaviours (with the exception of the environmental concerns topic, which was last collected in 1999).
  • Environment protection expenditure by local government.
  • Biennial natural resource management (NRM) surveys, along the lines of the 2002 Land Management and Salinity Survey and the 2003 Agriculture Water Use Survey, to produce national and regional estimates and possibly broad regional estimates such as NAP region.
  • Energy and greenhouse gas accounts (next due in respect of 2005-06).
  • Water accounts (next due in respect of 2004-05), for which we are aiming to provide greater regional detail.

Some of these collections are dependent on additional funding being made available for the ABS's environment statistics program.

In addition the collection and compilation activities described above we are also planning to continue to produce the environment thematic publication, probably on a biennial basis.

We are also developing a land parcel methodology to facilitate timely, focussed, in-depth analysis of particular NRM areas/issues, particularly for small areas.

We will also be increasing our coordination and statistical leadership activities through the Centre for Environment and Energy Statistics.

To make way for these new initiatives, the following collections and environmental accounts are not currently scheduled to be repeated:
  • Certain NRM topics previously collected as part of the agricultural censuses and surveys (although as mentioned above we are proposing to conduct specific biennial NRM surveys).
  • Another economy-wide energy survey (although we may consider conducting a repeat of the 2001-02 survey in about 2008-09 if funding is available).
  • The following (previously compiled) environmental accounts: minerals, fish and economy-wide environment protection expenditure.

There is some demand for a comprehensive environment industry survey. However, in the absence of additional funding there is no capacity in the ABS to conduct such a survey.

2005 International Statistical Institute Session, 5-12 April 2005

You may also be interested that the 55th Session of the International Statistical Institute (ISI) will be held in Sydney on 5 - 12 April 2005. Included below is some information about the conference and the website address if you would like more details.

The International Statistical Institute (ISI) is composed of more than 2000 individual elected members who are internationally recognised as definitive leaders in the field of statistics. Its membership crosses all borders, representing more than 133 countries worldwide. The ISI Conference will provide an excellent opportunity for statisticians to congregate and exchange innovative ideas, develop new links and discuss current trends and developments in the statistical world.

The Scientific Program for the Session includes Invited Paper Meetings, Contributed Paper Meetings, theme days covering environmental statistics, finance statistics and genomics, Key Note Speakers, Poster Sessions, Tutorials and Short Courses.

The Environmental Statistics Theme day, which will be held on Wednesday 6 April, and part of Thursday 7 April, will include 3 Invited Paper Meetings, a tutorial, and related Contributed Papers.

Information about the Session is available from the website

Domestic Use of Water and Energy Survey, South Australia

The Domestic Use of Water and Energy Survey (South Australia) is a supplement to the ABS Labour Force Survey with a sample size of approximately 4,000 households (in SA only). The questions asked on this survey relate primarily to household water and energy use and conservation measures.

The results of the Domestic Use of Water and Energy Survey (South Australia) will be able to be compared with certain data from the Labour Force Survey, including income and tenure type (e.g rented vs owned properties). Some of this information will be published in an ABS publication in April 2005.

We are also approaching (most) of the 4,000 households, asking for their authorisation for us to obtain household electricity and water consumption details from their retail service providers (including volumes and amount ($) paid). This resulting data will be used for further detailed analysis after the release of the publication (subject to user funding).

Contact: Stuart Peevor
email: stuart.peevor@abs.gov.au