4613.0 - Australia's Environment: Issues and Trends, Jan 2010  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 28/01/2010   
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28 January 2010 Embargoed 11.30am (Canberra Time) 7/2010

Australians are using less water but more energy: ABS

Australians are using less water but more energy, according to a new report released today from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

Australia's Environment: Issues and Trends presents a snapshot of environmental issues affecting Australia. The 2010 edition also includes a feature article on the issue of climate change, and what it means for Australia.

This edition highlights that water use by agriculture has fallen by almost half in two years, with the biggest reductions occurring in New South Wales and Victoria, while the proportion of households using water saving devices has doubled between 1994 and 2007.

Water storage levels in Australia’s 'food bowl', the Murray Darling Basin, were down to less than one third of capacity at the end of October 2009.

While water consumption fell, energy use rose. Australia's heavy reliance on fossil fuels, especially for power generation, has seen greenhouse gas emissions in the energy sector rise by almost one-half since 1990, however emissions per head of population fell by 12% over the same period.

The Northern Territory and Western Australia lead other states in solar hot water use (54% and 21%, respectively), but overall, less than 10% of Australian homes were using solar hot water in 2008.

In 2008, only half (53%) of homes in New South Wales had insulation, compared to the national average of just over 60% - but most people were insulating for comfort rather than to save energy.

Australians are also living in larger homes with fewer people; this is increasing greenhouse emissions from the electricity and gas used to build and run them.

Over three quarters of people use a private vehicle to travel to work, but the proportion using public transport is slowly increasing.

The biggest increases in public transport use have been recorded in Victoria and South Australia, while New South Wales has fallen slightly.

Australian transport and construction industries experienced the largest drop in energy intensity (energy used per unit of economic output) down 49% and 74%, respectively over the 30 years to 2006-07, leading to a decrease of over a third for all Australian industries combined.

Further details can be found in Australia's Environment: Issues and Trends 2010 (cat. no. 4613.0), available for free download from www.abs.gov.au.