Climate pollution rising: Turnbull, Frydenberg failing

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Data released this week is hard evidence Australia’s pollution is going up and that means Turnbull and Frydenberg’s policies are failing.

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Alpha Males and the Lump of Coal.
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By Matthew Rose and Suzanne Harter

If the Turnbull government had to pay a dollar for every time a minister claimed Australia was ‘meeting and beating’ its climate targets, the money would be stacking up. Their claims, however, would not.

New data, just released under the National Greenhouse & Energy Reporting Scheme, shows the climate policies of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Environment & Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg are simply not working.

The data reflects the emissions of approximately 400 of Australia’s biggest companies and sits alongside the National Greenhouse Gas Inventory as an indicator of our emissions trajectory.

The 10 biggest polluters remain the same as last year. although the order has slightly changed.

They include Australia’s biggest electricity generators, AGL, Energy Australia, Origin, Engie and CS Energy, along with mining giants Rio Tinto and Glencore.

Overall, climate pollution is up by 3.4 per cent since last year and by 7.5 per cent since the Abbott-Turnbull government axed the carbon price.

Unlike the government’s current policy, the carbon price was reducing Australia’s pollution. This is evident in the data.

cer dataThe new data also shows pollution from Australia’s electricity sector, which is responsible for about 35 per cent of our climate pollution, went up 2.6 per cent on the previous year and 5 per cent since the carbon price was removed.

The pollution increases — from specific generators and overall — show there is little incentive for big polluters to clean up their acts when they have a free ride to pollute.

Meanwhile, global warming continues to damage Australian treasures, like the Great Barrier Reef, and increase the likelihood and severity of heatwaves and bushfires.

And there’s no sign Australia’s international commitments under the Paris agreement, including our 2030 target for 26-28 per cent pollution reduction in 2005 levels, will be able to be reached without major policy changes that see Australia phase out fossil fuels and enable a rapid transition to clean renewable energy.

However, instead of acknowledging global warming as a national crisis that demands immediate serious action, the federal government is considering loaning Adani $1 billion for a coal-carting railway line from the Galilee Basin to the Great Barrier Reef coast and wants the Clean Energy Finance Corporation to fund new coal-fired power stations.

None of this stacks up for investors that see coal in terminal decline and are unwilling to sink their money into facilities that will undoubtedly end up as stranded assets.

Nor is support for coal consistent with our Paris commitments, which include driving down pollution to net zero well before mid-century keeping global warming under 1.5—2 degrees.

Mr Turnbull and Mr Frydenberg apparently value the political points that can be scored by demonising renewable energy above the safe future that can be secured by transforming our energy system from dirty to clean.

In the past few months Australians have witnessed an increasingly divisive political attack on renewable energy. Renewable energy has been blamed for just about all that ails the energy system — especially electricity price rises and blackouts.

Never mind that price spikes are actually caused by a range of factors, including the high price of gas and a concentration of market power.

And never mind the failures of the National Electricity Market and the Australian Energy Market Operator when it comes to energy security.

The outages in South Australia were the result of a range of failures — and the Australian Energy Market Operator’s own report on the last outage acknowledged that many were its own.

Regardless, Turnbull and Frydenberg continue to blame renewable energy. The data released this week is hard evidence Australia’s pollution is going up and that means Turnbull and Frydenberg’s policies are failing.

Matthew Rose is the Australian Conservation Foundation’s economist; Suzanne Harter is ACF’s climate change campaigner

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8 Comments
  1. lin 2 years ago

    This government is failing in every other respect. We should not expect their climate and energy policies to be any different. Many of those who decided to stick with the the current mob at the last election may be feeling buyers remorse about now.

  2. Nick H 2 years ago

    The above graph is even more shocking when compared to the total energy consumption covering the same period. in essence emissions have gone up while consumption has been at its lowest since reporting began in 2008!

  3. Tim Forcey 2 years ago

    And have we been reporting all emissions, even these “ROGUE EMISSIONS”? http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-02-28/the-clean-green-image-of-coal-seam-gas-is-under/8312466?pfmredir=sm

    • Miles Harding 2 years ago

      Good one, Tim.
      I was off to find this one when I noticed you had already posted it.

      We appear to have arrived at the unaviodable conclusion the the only good fossil fuel is one that is left undisturbed in the ground.

  4. Chris Fraser 2 years ago

    Why did we pay all that tax money to Greg Hunt for the Emissions Reduction Fund, the ERF ? Ah yes, that was mainly to line the pockets of opportunistic emissions sequestration. It may, MAY, have helped pay for Greg’s charter flight over the Great Barrier Reef to survey the damage caused by his increasing emissions. Probably gave him a giggle too.

  5. Kevan Daly 2 years ago

    Oh dear, a 5% increase in 2 years. You won’t get too many volunteers to storm any barricades over that. Particularly if they come from SA, where there’s more interest in reliability and price as compared to emissions reduction.

    The other point relates to emissions intensity; a 2.5% increase in emissions is roughly what the increase in GDP has been. Hence the emissions intensity has been roughly constant for two years. Perhaps the Chinese have chosen the correct measure to characterise emissions.

  6. Robert Hay 2 years ago

    There is one simple question the Turnbull mob should be forced to answer, that is “what have you got against reducing pollution, and why do you think that electricity generators should be allowed to pollute our atmosphere without having to pay when other product producers are required to meet clean production regulations? We should be trying to minimise harm to our environment simply because it’s the only one we have and we rely on it for everything we need to survive and be healthy. Turnbull should invest in renewable energy innovation and regulate for energy efficiency improvements for existing housing stock. Lots of jobs there. No brainer really. Everyone wins. So why won’t they do it? What do they have against being environmentally responsible?

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