The Australian Greenhouse Office of the Federal government projects Australia’s greenhouse emissions trends. Tracking to the Kyoto Target was released last year just before Christmas (so no one would notice it). Even though Australia never ratified the Kyoto Protocol, a government department has still found Australia will not meet its Kyoto target of 108 per cent above 1990 levels by 2010. The report tried to paint a rosy picture, and I wish I could believe that
Australia remains committed to meeting its target.
I was having a hard time working out what the report actually said because they kept swapping between percentages and millions of tonnes of greenhouse emissions per year. But the graph on p.1 helps to clarify things (the report is downloadable as a pdf). If we keep going just as we are now (no “greenhouse measures”),
emissions growth would have reached 125% of the 1990 level by 2010
The Australian Government along with State, Territory and Local governments have implemented a range of policies and programs, and actions have been taken by business and the community.
The government says these policies, programs and actions will mean
the current analysis projects Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions at 109% of the 1990 emissions level over the period 2008–12, which is slightly above the 108% Kyoto target.
And to make it sound even better,
The Australian Government is addressing further measures to help meet the Kyoto target.
The government likes to harp on about how necessary nuclear power is and I get the impression they think it could be a big part of their “measures.” Nuclear power is so far from being cost effective (see Davidson, K. 2006, “Editorial” Dissent, no.21, pp.2-4), even if you get over the problem of what to do with nuclear waste (John Howard hasn’t offered to put it in his back shed). Nuclear waste might not lead to climate change but it certainly could lead to worse things. Our government also thinks geosequestration is the way to go, but this is unproven technology and detracts from the real problem of excessive carbon emissions.
Risks to achieving our Kyoto target exist around the central overall projection. One upside risk relates to recent strong growth in electricity generation.
If we’re not careful this strong growth in electricity generation will continue. In order to keep using the electricity we want to use (and it’s industry that uses the most electricity) we need to use renewable sources of generation. Nuclear power is not renewable – the sun and the wind are, and they are especially plentiful in various parts of Australia. And because solar and wind power are variable (see Diesendorf, M. 2006, “In defence of renewable energy and its variability” Dissent, no.21, pp.5-8) they can be supplemented with bioenergy, gas turbines and other methods. Diesendorf writes,
Clean energy futures, based on efficient energy use, renewable energies and natural gas (while it lasts) are technologically and economically feasible. The main barriers are institutional and the political power of the fossil fuel industries.
There’s always hope if you’re not in league with your business cronies in the coal and nuclear industries.