07/11/2019 - 13:26

Carbon answers needed for LNG

07/11/2019 - 13:26

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The Conservation Council WA has ramped up its continuing criticism of the LNG industry, with a report released today arguing other parts of the state's economy will have an “impossible ask” to reduce emissions to compensate for recent petroleum developments assuming the national target is applied uniformly.

Carbon answers needed for LNG
The Wheatstone operation emits more carbon than any facility in WA. Photo: Chevron

The Conservation Council of Western Australia has ramped up its continuing criticism of the LNG industry, with a report released today arguing other parts of the state's economy will have an “impossible ask” to reduce emissions to compensate for recent petroleum developments assuming the national target is applied uniformly.

While Western Australia’s emissions increased by 23.4 per cent in the period from 2005 to 2017, the report shows all other states and territories, except the Northern Territory, posted reductions.

Data from the federal Department of the Environment shows Tasmania led the way, with emissions falling 95.2 per cent, while in absolute terms, a reduction of nearly 30 million tonnes per annum in NSW was the largest.

“Australia’s international commitment under the Paris Agreement requires pollution to be reduced by 26-28 per cent from the 2005 baseline year,” the Conservation Council said in the Clean State report.

“But current and proposed LNG projects coming online since 2005 will add 41.6 million tonnes of pollution a year, equivalent to a 61 per cent increase on WA’s 2005 emissions baseline, and an 8 per cent increase above Australia’s 2005 baseline.”

Effectively, other jurisdictions and industries will need to work harder to compensate for this increase.

One big debate is about how exactly this should be managed.

Splitting the target down on a state-by-state level leads to the outcome that WA would have to cut emissions across the rest of the economy by 90 per cent to compensate.

“This is an impossible ask on the rest of the economy and community,” the council said.

Or, LNG producers would need to reduce emissions.

But those options assume the emissions target applies uniformly across states.

Some sectors, such as electricity generation, might find it easier to reduce emissions beyond the target level.

The land use and forestry sectors in NSW and South Australia are also good examples; both have transitioned to be contributing to abatement in net terms.

Work by the Department of the Environment shows Australia needs to lower emissions by about 695mt cumulatively across the next 10 years to meet the Paris target, if no offsets from the Kyoto agreement are carried over.

“The major drivers of growth in emissions to 2020 are the continued expansion of Australia’s liquefied natural gas industry and a declining carbon sink from the land sector,” the department said in its 2018 emissions projections report. 

“This is mostly offset by a decline in electricity emissions.”

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