1338.1 - New South Wales in Focus, 2008 (Reissue)  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 17/06/2008  Reissue
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Image: Environment
Environment – Summary Table
Data cubes with detailed statistics available on the Details Page


Measuring environmental change is required to determine whether the quality and quantity of Australia's natural resources and environmental assets are improving or declining. It is also vital to assess whether actions undertaken to safeguard the environment are working effectively. Environmental progress equates to a reduction of threats to the environment and improvements in the health of our ecosystems. This includes the quality of the natural landscape (land, water, biodiversity), air and atmosphere, oceans and estuaries.

Water use

Water in Australia is a valuable resource, required for almost every industry, particularly agriculture, as well as drinking water and household use. In 2004–05, total water consumption for NSW was 5,922 GL. The Agriculture industry used the largest volume of water (4133 GL), accounting for 70% of total water consumption. The Water Supply, Sewerage and Drainage Services industry was the next highest consumer of water, accounting for 11% of water consumption, (mostly due to loss of water in distribution). Households were also significant consumers of water, accounting for 10% of water consumption in NSW.

Water consumption, NSW – 2004–05

Graph: Water consumption, NSW—2004–05

Energy consumption

Energy significantly contributes to all sectors of the economy, including supplying power to households and industry. The amount and type of energy used by households and industry has considerable implications for the environment, including depletion of natural resources, greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution. Between 2001 and 2006, total energy usage in NSW and ACT increased by 3%. This increase was mainly due to the combined energy consumption levels of the Electricity Generation and Transport industries rising by 3%. In the same period, residential consumption decreased slightly by 1%.

In 2006, the Electricity Generation and Transport industries together accounted for 58% of the total energy consumption in NSW and the ACT. Residential energy use accounted for 8% of total direct energy consumption, though household use of transport and demand for products and services contributes to energy consumption in almost all industries.

Energy consumption, NSW and ACT – 2001 and 2006

Graph: Energy Consumption, NSW and ACT—2001 and 2006

Electricity generation and greenhouse gases

Human actions, particularly burning fossil fuels, (coal, oil and natural gas), are increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases that trap more heat and change the climate. Global warming is widely perceived as one of the most significant international environmental issues. Most energy consumed in NSW comes from non-renewable fossil fuels, and the main sources are black coal (53%) and petroleum (38%). Between 2001 to 2006, the largest increase for fuel use was black coal, rising by 9% over this period. Black coal provided 89% of the total NSW electricity generation in 2006–07, compared with 7% provided by renewable energy sources such as hydro, wind, solar, biomass or biogas.

Energy consumption, By fuel type, NSW and ACT – 2001 and 2006

Graph: Energy Consumption By Fuel Type, NSW and ACT—2001 and 2006

In 2005, NSW net greenhouse emissions across all sectors totalled 158 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent, and have decreased slightly (–1%) since 1990. The Stationary Energy sector (mainly electricity generation) is a major contributor to greenhouse gases, and accounted for almost half the total net emissions. Between 1990 to 2005, the largest sectoral increases in greenhouse gas emissions occurred in the Stationary Energy sector (26%), and the Transport sector (17%). Growth in these sectors was offset by a decline in net emissions from the Land Use and Forestry (–61%) and Agriculture (–20%) sectors.

Change in contribution to greenhouse gas emissions, NSW – 1990–2005(a)(b)(c)(d)(e)

Graph: Change in Contribution to Greenhouse Gas Emissions, NSW—1990–2005(a)(b)(c)(d)(e)

Environment – Summary Table
Data cubes with detailed statistics available on the Details Page