A slightly surprising takeaway from the latest pitt&sherry Cedex report is that total sales of light vehicle fuels in Australia, and hence emissions from their use, have been declining steadily for the past year.
As the report’s author Hugh Saddler notes, “this overall reduction in consumption of petroleum fuels for road transport is potentially very significant” and, should it continue, could take on a similar significance to the much talked about electricity demand reduction.
But the same can’t be said for Australia’s consumption of diesel – petrol’s more emissions intensive (and often more costly) cousin.
As illustrated in the graphs below, Australia’s diesel fuel habit has been steadily booming, compared to other petroleum fuels; a trend driven by particularly strong growth in the WA and Northern Territory markets, where diesel is used for mining, industry, and electricity generation at remote locations, as well as for road transport (light vehicles, buses, road transport fleets).
Correspondingly, emissions from bulk diesel sales are far and away higher (and rising) than those of any other petroleum fuels, even those used by the aviation sector.
Retail sales of diesel for light vehicles are also soaring ahead, especially when compared to those of petrol and LPG, which have both been in steady decline. And it’s because of this discrepancy, says Saddler, that the 0.9 per cent reduction in petroleum fuel emissions recorded in Australia over the past 12 months is actually less than the reduction in total volume (1.1%).
The graph on the right, meanwhile, shows where Australia’s booming thirst for diesel is coming from. And it helps to explain why organisations like the Australian Renewable Energy Agency are so focused on using their resources to drive the uptake of renewable energy technologies like portable solar generators in off-grid locations, where all this heavy emitting and costly diesel is currently used.