Environmentalists are calling on the federal government to change its approach to climate policy, after the latest data showed Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise.
The December quarter figures released on Thursday show a 0.8 per cent increase compared to the previous quarter and a 0.7 per cent rise from the same time last year.
The increase has again been pinned on the liquefied natural gas industry.
Emissions in the electricity sector fell by 3.5 per cent in the year to December and agricultural pollution dropped by 3.3 per cent.
But emissions increased in the other six sectors due to growing LNG exports, and steel and aluminium production.
Transport emissions rose 2.8 per cent over the year, due to a 10.9 per cent increase in diesel consumption.
Overall, Australia’s emissions have decreased by 9.5 per cent in 30 years.
Energy and Emissions Reduction Minister Angus Taylor says Australia is now almost 12 per cent below its 2005 levels.
The country has pledged to reduce emissions by 26 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030.
However, government projections show more than half that target can be achieved through carryover credits from achieving goals of the Kyoto protocol.
Although Australia met its target in the first Kyoto agreement, it allowed for an increase of emissions.
LNG exports are largely behind the country’s increasing emissions, but Mr Taylor believes credit should be given for exporting a less carbon-intensive power source to other nations.
“The Morrison government is not going to trash successful Australian export industries that are reducing global emissions, in order to reduce Australian emissions,” he said in a statement.
Mr Taylor insists the government’s climate solutions plan will achieve the Paris target, primarily through paying companies and communities for projects to reduce pollution.
The plan says the Battery of the Nation hydro electricity project will reduce emissions by 25 million tonnes by 2030, while a national vehicle strategy will reduce pollution by 10 million tonnes.
The government has also accounted for “technology improvements” to reach the Paris goal.
The Climate Council says the government needs to rethink its approach to reducing emissions, as levels have increased over the past four years.
“The prime minister and his new cabinet have an opportunity for a fresh start. We cannot waste another three years,” Climate Council CEO Amanda McKenzie said.
“Australia is the sunniest country in the world and one of the windiest. We have great opportunities to tackle climate change, but we need effective federal policy.”