Australia is third biggest emissions exporter, report says

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The climate impact of Australia’s fossil fuel (coal, oil, gas) exports ranks behind only Russia and Saudi Arabia exports in terms of global emissions, according to a major new report from the Australia Institute Climate & Energy Program.

The new research also finds that in absolute terms Australia is the world’s fifth largest miner of fossil fuels, ranking behind only China, USA, Russia and Saudi Arabia. On a per capita basis, Australia is on par with Saudi Arabia.

The analysis, which compares emissions from burning fossil fuels mined and exported, also finds:

  • Australia is the world’s third largest fossil fuel exporter, making up seven per cent of all fossil fuel exports, behind only Russia and Saudi Arabia.
    • Australia is the largest fossil fuel exporter in the OECD, making up 20 per cent of the total.
    • Australia’s fossil fuel exports are almost three-quarters (74 per cent) the size of all exports from all EU countries combined, and more than double any individual EU country. Australia’s fossil fuel production is one and a half times the size of all EU countries’ production combined.
    • Australia’s fossil fuel exports are higher than those from Indonesia, Canada, Iraq, United Arab Emirates, or Qatar, and nearly four times larger than those from Venezuela or Colombia.
  • In absolute terms, Australia is the fifth biggest miner of fossil fuel carbon, behind only China, the USA, Russia and Saudi Arabia, and 10 times the world average per capita.
    • Australia mines more fossil fuel carbon than Indonesia, India, Canada, Iran and Iraq.
  • Australia’s domestic greenhouse gas emissions are higher than 40 countries that have larger populations than Australia, putting Australia at 14th globally.
  • Per capita, Australia’s emissions are the highest in the OECD, and globally behind only smaller petro-states such Qatar.

Australia Institute Climate & Energy Program Director Richie Merzian said, “On any reasonable assessment of the data, the climate impact of Australia’s fossil fuel industry are immense”.

“Many argue Australia’s emissions are small on a global scale, but this research shows the complete opposite: our domestic emissions are large and our exported emissions are even larger.

“Australia has a unique opportunity and obligation to face up to the climate crisis through policies to manage a decline in its carbon exports, starting with a moratorium on new coal mines.

“Beyond the economic and national security self-interest in replacing Australia fossil fuel exports with alternatives, Australia has a profound global obligation to reduce emissions.

“The global community must now grapple with the fact that if Australia wants to double its fossil fuel exports just as the world is desperately trying to tackle climate change, somebody is going to lose.”

The report comes as the Morrison Government has been accused of exploiting a “pollution loophole” by using Kyoto credits to help the government meet emissions reduction targets. At the recent Pacific Island Forum, Tuvalu Prime Minister Enele Sopoaga said money should not be a substitute for action.

Read the full report here.