Australia’s emissions are skyrocketing but the federal government has refused to provide the public with the truth, according to Independent Member of Parliament (MP), Andrew Wilkie.
The Tasmanian MP said its time for the government and the opposition to stop spreading disinformation, especially during a climate emergency, which is exactly what Australia is currently facing.
Wilkie has sponsored legislation seeking to amend the National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting Act 2007. Last week the House of Representatives Standing Committee on the Environment and Energy called for submissions on the Bill until March 20, 2020.
The Bill proposes a regular schedule for quarterly emissions reporting by the Minister for Emissions Reduction and Energy, Angus Taylor, which includes scope 3 emissions in all reporting obligations.
This would expand reporting to include emissions occurring in the wider economy, and internationally.
Queensland MP and Chair of the Committee, Ted O’Brien, said if the Bill came into effect, emissions generated internationally from the use of exported fossil fuels would be included in Australia’s national inventory of greenhouse gas emissions.
During the second reading of the proposed amendment last month, Wilkie said Australia's domestic emissions are large, but the nation’s exported emissions are even larger.
“It's absolutely essential that the Australian public has timely access to accurate information about this, including an especially accurate understanding of how our massive exports fuel climate change,” he said.
“The government simply cannot be allowed to continue to get away with accounting tricks and historical credits when the public can see our gross emissions skyrocketing. This bill will ensure transparency and accountability in the Australian government's national emissions accounting and is an essential step towards rapid and urgent emissions reduction.”
Wilkie said the two major parties are not willing to put the national interest first by withdrawing support for fossil fuel companies.
He said they are not prepared to put aside their political self-interest and achieve a consensus that transcends party politics and electoral cycles.
“To help turn this situation around we need to prevent the government from hiding or corrupting emission figures by giving the public better access to Australia's greenhouse gas data. This bill should not be necessary, the government should be open and transparent with its emissions data,” Wilkie said.
“All our fossil fuel exports, processed and used in energy generation internationally, will be included in the national inventory. And that would allow Australia to track its impact as one of the largest exporters of fossil fuels, and allow the community access to information about Australia's position in contributing to global greenhouse gas emissions.
“The government continues to insist that Australia can do little to influence global climate change on the basis that our emissions make up only 1.3 per cent of the world total. But when the carbon dioxide potential of our fossil fuel exports is taken into account, Australia is actually the third-largest exporter on the globe.
“In fact, when Australian fossil fuels are burned overseas, the amount of carbon dioxide they produce is higher than the exported emissions of almost all of the world's biggest oil- and gas-producing nations including Iraq, Kuwait and Canada,” Wilkie told parliament.
“Australia is only behind Russia and Saudi Arabia when it comes to fossil fuel exports.”
In the September 2019 Quarterly Update of Australia’s National Greenhouse Gas Inventory emissions fell 0.3 per cent or 1.4 Mt CO2-e to 530.8 Mt CO2-e.
Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction, Angus Taylor, admitted LNG exports have put upward pressure on emissions.
Emissions related to LNG production, a key export sector, increased by 16.9 per cent or 6.3 Mt CO2-e in the year to September 2019. Australia’s LNG exports are estimated to be worth $50.4 billion in the year to September 2019.
Taylor said emissions generated by exports have increased 54 per cent on 2005 levels and are now 39.1 per cent of Australia’s total emissions.
“Despite this upward pressure, emissions per capita and the emissions intensity of the economy continue to fall and are at their lowest levels in nearly three decades,” he said.