According to official data released on Monday, Australia’s carbon emissions increased by almost 1% in 2021 as a result of increased driving and travel as well as a rebound in industry.
The new Labor government has strengthened the nation’s climate pledge, aiming to cut emissions by 43 percent from 2005 levels by 2030. However, the rise, which experts predict will continue into the March quarter of 2022, presents a challenge.
To reach 488.0 Mt CO2-e, emissions increased by 4.1 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (Mt CO2-e). This increase was primarily due to a 4 percent increase in transportation emissions, a 3.3 percent increase in manufacturing, and a 4.2 percent increase in farm emissions as a result of a drought recovery.
The Department of Industry reported in a quarterly update that these increases were somewhat offset by a 4.2 percent decline from the largest emitting sector, electricity generation, with more power coming from wind and solar and less from coal- and gas-fired facilities.
According to the report, the trend indicated a further rise in the March quarter of 2022 to 489 Mt CO2-e, an increase of 2% from March 2021.
Since 1990, the industrial sector has seen the biggest percentage increase in emissions, up 54 percent or 35.8 Mt CO2-e, partly because of the explosive growth of the liquefied natural gas (LNG) export market.
The government’s plan to tighten the so-called ‘safeguard mechanism,’ which mandates the nation’s biggest emitters to keep their emissions below an agreed limit, or baseline, and buy carbon credits when they exceed that baseline, would target emissions from large manufacturers.
To encourage the use of cleaner cars and reduce emissions from the transportation industry, the government also plans to provide tax discounts on electric vehicles.
Greenpeace Australia Pacific campaigner Lindsay Soutar stated in a statement that ‘tackling transport emissions needs to be a priority for this government.’