4653.0 - Environment and Energy News, Jan 2003  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 28/01/2003   
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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 is produced on a half yearly basis. It 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 Adam Carmody via email and leave your address details.

Adam Carmody
5N 345 Environment & Energy Statistics Section
Australian Bureau of Statistics
Locked Bag No. 10, BELCONNEN ACT 2617

Tel: (02) 6252 7477
Fax: (02) 6252 5335
Email: a.carmody@abs.gov.au
ABS 2003 YEAR BOOK (1301.0)

The next ABS Yearbook has an environmental theme and is due to be released on 24 January 2003. There are several feature articles covering topics such as climate change, Australia's rivers and renewable energy. In addition, mini articles on relevant environmental issues accompany the Geography and Climate, Environment, Energy, Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Mining, Manufacturing, Construction, Tourism and National Accounts chapters. The articles are compiled by staff of the Environment and Energy Section as well as external contributors.

Special Publication
As part of the release of the ABS Yearbook, a separate publication titled Environment by Numbers: selected articles (ABS cat. no. 4617.0) will be released. This publication is a collection of the environment articles that appear in the Yearbook. This publication is likely to be released in February 2003.

Contact: Beth Edwards
Email: beth.edwards@abs.gov.au

The Land Management and Salinity Survey was conducted in May 2002 as a supplement to the 2001 Agricultural Census. It was the largest survey of its type ever conducted in Australia and was sent to a sample of approximately 20,000 farmers. In December 2002, the ABS released the first results of the survey in a publication titled Salinity on Australian Farms 2002. The publication provides new information about how much land farmers think is showing signs of salinity, the management practices they are employing to combat salinity and some of the drivers and barriers to land management change.

Main Findings
  • A little under 20,000 farms and 2 million hectares of agricultural land were reported by farmers as showing signs of salinity.
  • Nearly 30,000 farms have implemented salinity management practices.
  • Of the agricultural land showing signs of salinity, 800,000 hectares is unable to be used for agricultural production.
  • The state most affected by salinity is Western Australia, with 7,000 farms and 1.2 million hectares showing signs of salinity.
  • Farms within the regions identified in the National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality (NAP regions), account for 17,000 farms or 87% of farms showing signs of salinity and 1.3 million hectares or 66% of the area showing signs of salinity. The NAP region most affected by salinity was Avon (WA) with 2,297 farms and 450,000 hectares showing signs of salinity.
  • Non-irrigated farms accounted for 1.8 million hectares or 93% of the agricultural land showing signs of salinity.
  • Farms primarily involved with the production of beef cattle, sheep and grains accounted for 16,000 or 82% of the farms showing signs of salinity and 1.9 million hectares or 97% of the agricultural land showing signs of salinity.
  • The most common salinity management practices employed were:
        • Crops, pastures and fodder plants for salinity management, 3.2 million hectares
        • Trees for salinity management, 776,000 hectares
        • Earthworks (levees, banks and drains) for salinity management, 208,000 km
        • Fencing for salinity management, with 466,000 hectares fenced
  • Just over 7,000 irrigated farms had made changes to irrigation practices for salinity management purposes.
  • The main motivations for implementation of salinity management practices were for:
        • Farm sustainability (66% of farmers implementing change said this was of high importance)
        • Environmental protection (56%)
        • Increase or maintain agricultural production (54% )
  • The main reported barriers to changing land management practices were lack of financial resources and lack of time (35% and 21% respectively of all farmers reported these as very limiting). Lack of information or doubts about likely success were not considered by a majority of farmers to be barriers to change (in each case 52% of all farmers reported these as not a factor).

Further information including facts sheets for the states, territories and NAP regions, summary tables, and a map of the NAP regions can be found on this site.

Contact: Adam Sincock
Email: adam.sincock@abs.gov.au

The eighth edition of Environmental Issues: People's Views and Practices was released last December 2002. The publication presented results of a household survey conducted in March 2002 which collected information on energy sources, aspects of dwelling materials and fixtures that impact on energy use, and energy using household appliances.

Two key themes emerged from the survey. Firstly, while there was widespread penetration of some energy saving measures (eg insulation, fluorescent lights and use of cold water in washing clothes), there was also an increase in the number and usage of household appliances (eg there were significant rises in the number of air-conditioners and the use of dishwashers). Secondly, the adoption of energy conservation measures seems to have been motivated mostly by lifestyle reasons and a desire to reduce energy costs, rather than any environmental benefits. Cost was the main factor influencing the use of insulation, greenpower and the replacement of white goods.

Main Findings:
  • An increase in the proportion of dwellings with some form of insulation, from 52% in 1994 to 58% in 2002.

  • Western Australia recorded the most significant increase (13%) in the proportion of dwellings with some form of insulation between 1994 and 2002 (from 52% to 65%) followed by Queensland where an 8% rise was recorded (from 29% to 36%).

  • Two in three hot water systems in Australia were powered by electricity and approximately half of these utilised off-peak electricity. New South Wales recorded the highest proportion of households using off-peak electricity to power hot water systems (46%), followed by Queensland (37%) and South Australia (29%).

  • Victoria had the highest proportion of dwellings in which gas is used, with 73% of Victorian households using it for space heating and 67% for cooking and heating water.Less than 3% of Australian homes surveyed used greenpower, which does not contribute to greenhouse gas emissions.

  • Solar energy is primarily used in Australia for heating water and was utilised by 4% of households, but was used in 53% of Northern Territory households and 16% of Western Australian households.

  • Almost 60% of dwellings used fluorescent lights and 23% used energy saving lights in at least one room.

  • The Australian Capital Territory had the highest proportion of households using energy saving lights (26%).

  • Of household appliances, air-conditioners and dishwashers experienced the largest increase (16% and 10%, respectively) over the period 1994 to 2002. The number of households with computers also rose substantially from 45% in 1999 to 60% in 2002.

  • At 11% Tasmanians were the best in Australia at taking into account environmental considerations when buying or replacing white good appliances.

  • South Australia had the highest proportion of households with suds saving aided washing machines, despite a decline from almost 60% in 1994 to 46% in 2002. Households in Queensland and the Northern Territory used cold water in their washing machines more than any other state (77% each).

Contact: Apolonio Basilio
Email: apolonio.basilio@abs.gov.au

The publication Environment Expenditure, Local Government, Australia, 2000-01 was released in mid October 2002. The survey collected information on expenditure and revenue by local government authorities related to their activities of environmental protection and natural resource management.

Main Findings:
Local government was found to be a major player in protecting Australia's environment and in managing its natural resources. Australian local government spent a total of $2.5 billion on measures to protect the environment (13% of total councils' expenditure) and a further $1.8 billion on natural resource management (9% of council's total expenditure) in 2000-01.

Australian local government spent a total of $2.5b on environment protection services and activities in 2000-01. Traditional council activities such as solid waste management ($1.1b) and waste water treatment ($1.2b) were the dominant activities. Total revenue to directly fund environment protection activities amounted to $2.3b in 2000-01. Ratepayers (both households and businesses) funded $2b (85%) of total revenue for local government activities on environment protection activities. State and Commonwealth governments contributed 7% ($169m) of total environment protection revenue. New South Wales councils spent more than any other state on environment protection ($997m). Queensland collected the most revenue for environment protection ($994m) and they also had the highest expenditure on a per capita basis ($214 per person).

Australian local government spent a further $1.8b on natural resource management and the efficient use of these resources. Natural resource management expenditure on land management activities was $933m. Water supply expenditure was $771m. Total revenue to directly fund natural resource management activities amounted to $1.3b in 2000-01 of which water supply revenue contributed 80% ($1.1b) and land management contributed 16% ($218m). Ratepayers (both households and businesses) funded $1.1b (81%) of total revenue for local government natural resource management activities, with state and Commonwealth governments contributing a further 5% ($62m). Queensland councils collected the most revenue ($758m) and had the highest expenditure ($628m) for natural resource management. On a per capita basis, Tasmania ($223 per person) and Queensland ($173 per person) spent the most on natural resource management.

User Review:
In preparation for the 2002-03 survey on local government environmental expenditure, some consultation will be conducted commencing in January 2003. Interested stakeholders and groups using these statistics who wish to see new issues considered or would like to suggest changes to the current publication structure are invited to participate in the review process.

Contact: Adam Carmody
Email: a.carmody@abs.gov.au

The second edition of Australia's Environment: Issues and Trends will be released early in 2003. The main topics to be covered are measuring environmental values, the environmental impacts of agriculture, forestry, mining and waste.

The first Chapter explores a number of ways in which Australia's natural resources and environmental assets may be measured or valued - both in monetary and non-financial terms. It covers techniques used to estimate environmental values in monetary terms, the incorporation of natural assets on the national balance sheet, environmental protection expenditure, non-financial environmental values, environmental accounting, the role of indicators and the concept of eco-efficiency.

Chapter two examines the environmental consequences of changing trends in agriculture. Trends in land use, crops grown and water consumption over the last decade are included. Responses to land degradation, with an emphasis on the 'Decade of Landcare' are discussed. There is also an article with information and issues relating to Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO's).

Chapter three focuses on the value of forests. It includes data and analysis on carbon storage in Australia's forests, production of forest products such as timber, woodchips and firewood. Land clearing and other threats to Australia's forests are also covered.

The fourth chapter, on mining, includes a detailed analysis of some of the environmental impacts of mining such as land disturbance, air and water pollution, energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. A section on environmental management includes data on environmental protection expenditure, rehabilitation bonds and environmental technologies used by the mining industry.

Chapter five explores the topic of waste. It contains data on quantities of waste, disposal methods and methods to reduce waste flow in Australia.

Contact: Beth Edwards
Email: beth.edwards@abs.gov.au

The Water Account for Australia 2000-01 presents a set of statistics for Australia's water resources for each State and Territory, and the country as a whole. It includes detailed statistics on water supply and use by different industries presented in an environmental accounting framework. The collection of data for the second Water Account for Australia 2000-01 is near completion, and is due for release mid 2003. This edition will present a greater focus on agricultural water use, and cover issues such as water trading and environmental flows.

In addition to the preparation of the latest Water Account, new questions have been developed with the aim of increasing the amount of water data available from the mining, manufacturing, and agriculture sectors. These questions have been tested in all mainland states and preliminary results are encouraging. The questions will be finalised in the coming months.

Contact: Alice Thompson
Email: alice.thompson@abs.gov.au

The Environment and Energy Statistics Section has finalised the recruitment for its Summer Internship Program. The purpose of the internship is to employ university undergraduates, graduates or postgraduates with qualifications and skills in Natural Resource Management and related Economic fields over the university summer break.

Numerous applications were received from persons with a diversity of backgrounds and a variety of qualifications, with the standard of applications being extremely high. Out of the employment process four interns were employed; three with postgraduate qualifications. Interns are currently involved in various aspects of projects encompassing resource accounting, land management and salinity, environment management surveys, and household surveys.

Contact: Nick Hill

Over the coming months, the Environment and Energy Statistics Section will be working with environmental stakeholders to develop a plan to improve the quality, timeliness, relevance and use of environmental statistical information.

There is a recognised need for comprehensive and consistent environmental information at national, State, Territory and regional levels. This need is best met through cooperation and coordination between the users and producers of such information - and this is where the plan fits in.

The first stage in developing the plan will be to identify information that is needed to assist debate on environmental issues affecting Australia (information needs). The next step is to catalogue and assess all relevant available data (information supply). Comparing the information supply with the information needs will enable gaps, overlaps and deficiencies in the available data to be identified. The final stage of the plan is to make recommendations as to how best to address these deficiencies.

A key element of the plan will be to actively engage major users and producers of environmental statistics. Only with a combined effort from both users and producers will a plan to improving environmental statistics be possible.

The plan is still at a very early stage of development. Initially, it will focus on land, inland water, and related biodiversity issues, but in the future, it will be expanded to cover other environmental themes.

Contact: Chris Alach
Email: chris.alach@abs.gov.au