Environment and Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg concedes Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions rose last financial year, after more than a decade of political warring over climate policy failed to curb dangerous emissions growth.
Data released last month shows Australia’s annual emissions rose by 0.7 per cent in the year to June 2017, to 550 million tonnes of carbon dioxide.
The result is only marginally lower than the 554 million tonnes of emissions Australia produced in 2000. While emissions levels have fluctuated since the turn of the millennium, it is the fourth straight year Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions have grown.
Speaking on ABC Radio on Thursday, Mr Frydenberg was repeatedly pressed to admit Australia’s emissions rose last year, and eventually conceded “that is true”.
Environment and Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
But he said those figures were calculated on a yearly basis, and “if you look at the last quarter they went down, if you look at the trend it is improving”.
Mr Frydenberg said June quarter figures showed emissions went down by 0.6 per cent, and that emissions on a per capita and GDP basis were at “their lowest in 28 years”.
“What you need to focus on here is what is happening in different aspects of the economy as a result of policies we are putting in place,” he said.
“What we are seeing is real improvements in various aspects of the economy.”
Mr Frydenberg pointed to the national energy productivity plan which aims to boost energy efficiency in the built environment by 40 per cent, and the emissions reduction fund, focused on agriculture and the land sector, which has abated up to 190 million tonnes of carbon dioxide at an average cost of $12 a tonne.
The government enters 2018 needing to win support from the states and territories for its signature power policy, the national energy guarantee.
The guarantee forces energy companies to meet mandated standards of reliability and emissions reduction, but critics say it thwarts growth in renewable energy, props up ageing coal-fired power plants and will fail to sufficiently drive down dangerous carbon emissions.
Mr Frydenberg said the policy was “the most effective way” to cut emissions.
“It is totally technology neutral, it allows for all forms of generation and in fact contrary to [Labor energy spokesman] Mark Butler’s myths it will actually increase the amount of renewable in the system quite significantly.”
Labor has heavily criticised the plan and Mr Butler said on Wednesday the “only detail that has been released is modelling showing cuts to large scale renewable investment”.
Mr Butler said former prime minister Tony Abbott “vandalised” the nation’s climate change policies – a reference to the abolition of Labor’s so-called carbon tax in 2014 – and “unsurprisingly we have seen carbon pollution levels rise ever since”.
Mr Frydenberg said the independent energy security board was undertaking detailed design work on the national energy guarantee. In April it would be presented to the COAG energy council, which must unanimously sign off on the policy.
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.