Greenhouse gas emissions from Australia’s fossil fuel exports increased 4.4% between 2018 and 2019, according to data released by the Office of the Chief Economist.

A new Climate Transition report from the Practical Justice Initiative at University of NSW reveals Australia is now the world’s largest exporter of coal and gas, increasing its contribution to global climate change.

The report’s author, UNSW Professor Jeremy Moss, said Australia’s exported fossil fuels are now greater than Germany’s domestic emissions.

“Under our UN climate obligations, the massive emissions resulting from our fossil fuel exports aren’t counted in Australia’s national carbon budget, nor do we take responsibility for the impact these emissions are having globally,” Moss said.

“It’s time to recognise and account for that impact as part of the global climate change crisis and how it’s addressed.”

Ultimately, the reason countries and companies should take responsibility for exported emissions is a moral one, according to Professor Moss.

“The big exporters, who are reaping enormous profits from the sale of coal, oil and gas are in part responsible for these emissions. Without the investment in, infrastructure and supply of these fuels, they would not be consumed,” Moss said.

The UNSW report found that in 2019, the emissions from Australian fossil fuel exports were 1.4 times greater than Germany’s domestic emissions.

Every Australian is paying $1,832 per year for fossil fuel subsidies compared to the one-off payment of around $78 for bushfire relief, the report said.

Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction, Angus Taylor, said that since 1990, Australia’s national emissions have declined by 13 per cent and Australia’s emissions per person are at their lowest levels in 30 years.

“The Morrison Government has a clear plan through our $3.5 billion Climate Solutions Package to continue our strong track record and meet our 2030 Paris commitment,” he said.

“Our commitment is clear: lower prices, keep the lights on, while doing our bit to reduce global emissions without wrecking the economy – and we are seeing results.”

Taylor said the focus should be on new technologies, not new taxes.

“Our Technology Investment Roadmap will play an important role in reducing emissions, creating new jobs and supporting Australia’s COVID19 economic recovery,” he said.


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