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Victoria reduces emissions by 24.8%, on track for 45-50% reduction by 2030

Victoria achieved a 24.8 per cent emissions reduction between 2005 and 2019 and the state’s annual emissions dropped below 100 megatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent for the first time since 1994. This are pre-pandemic 2019 figures, and it is likely emissions have further declined during the pandemic. 

The results were contained in a report tabled in the Victorian parliament .

The Andrews government has met its legislated pledge to cut emissions by 20 per cent by 2020 ahead of schedule, and is on track to meet its target of a 28 to 33 per cent reduction below 2005 levels by 2025, and 45-50 per cent by 2030.

On Targets

The Independent Expert Panel recommended Victoria set greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets of:

  • 32-39% below 2005 levels in 2025 and
  • 45-60% below 2005 levels in 2030.

Even this was not consistent with keeping global warming to 1.5 degrees, and the numerous risks enumerated in the IPCC Special Report on Global warming of 1.5C.

The Combet Review identified emission cuts of at least 43% by 2025 and 67% by 2030 to have any chance of limiting warming to 1. 5°C, yet justified lower targets, even though there is scientific research that indicates there are several dangerous tipping points that should require substantial risk minimisation in setting ambitious targets.

So the news that emissions reduction are running ahead of set targets is pleasing, but insufficient given the task needed for deep decarbonisation to match targets consistent with a 1.5C trajectory.

The report also shows that in 2019, Victoria contributed 17.3 per cent of Australia’s total net emissions − less than Queensland (31.1 per cent); NSW (25.8 per cent) and WA (17.4 per cent).

Victoria is decarbonising at the most rapid rate of any major jurisdiction in Australia and is doing so while its population and economy continues to grow.

There is a legislated a target for 50 per cent of Victoria’s electricity to be provided from renewables by 2030 – and the Government’s own operations will be powered by 100 per cent renewable electricity by 2025.

The data shows that there has been a rise of 2.5 percent in transport emissions, highlighting that more needs to be done in the transport area to tackle growth in emissions. This may come through areas such as increasing support for walking and cycling, increased public transport through the rail, tram and bus network, incentives for EVs, and programs to encourage change in mobility away from private vehicles.

Minister for Energy and Environment Lily D’Ambrosio said, “As we head to the United Nations COP26 Climate Change conference in Glasgow, it is more important than ever for us to continue taking action on climate change.”

“This report clearly shows our action on climate change is having an impact on emissions – protecting our community and our environment, and creating jobs and supporting new industries.”

“As we outlined in our ambitious climate change strategy released earlier this year, we will halve our emissions by 2030 and transition to a zero net emissions economy by 2050.”

Key points include:

1. Victoria’s total net emissions in 2019 were 91.3 million tonnes (Mt) of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2-e)

  • This comprises emissions from electricity generation (48.0% of total net emissions), transport (24.8%), direct combustion (19.1%), agriculture (17.1%), industrial processes and product use (3.7%), fugitive emissions from fuels (3.3%) and waste (3.1%).
  • Land use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF) provided net sequestration of 17.4 Mt CO2-e (-19.1% of net emissions) – that is, the sector removed (sequestered) more greenhouse gases than it generated.


2. Victoria’s total net emissions fell by 30.1 Mt CO2-e (24.8%) between 2005 and 2019

• Key contributors to this reduction were electricity generation, which saw emissions fall by 19.6 Mt CO2-e (65% of the change in total net emissions) and the LULUCF sector, which increased net sequestration by 8.8 Mt CO2-e (29% of the change in Victoria’s total net emissions).
• Reductions in emissions also occurred in agriculture (2.5 Mt CO2 -e), waste (1.5 Mt CO2
-e) and direct combustion (1.0 Mt CO2-e).
• Emissions increased in transport (2.5 Mt CO2 -e), fugitive emissions from fuels (0.6 Mt CO2 -e) and industrial processes and product use (0.3 Mt CO2-e).
• Between 2005 and 2019, the emissions intensity of Victoria’s economy declined by 48% from 0.38 to 0.20 kilograms (kg) CO2-e per dollar of Gross State Product. Per capita emissions decreased by 43% from 24.3 to 13.8 tonnes (t) CO2-e per person.


3. Carbon dioxide contributed 74% of Victoria’s 2019 total net emissions

• At 67.4 Mt CO2 -e (73.8%), carbon dioxide (CO2) was the largest contributor to total net emissions in 2019, followed by methane (CH4) at 17.7 Mt CO2-e (19.4%), nitrous oxide (N2O) at 3.6 Mt CO2-e (3.9%) and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) at 2.6 Mt CO2-e (2.8%). Other gases included perfluorocarbons (PFCs) at 0.05 Mt CO2-e (0.05%) and sulphur hexafluorides (SF6) at 0.04 Mt CO2-e (0.04%).

• The major source of CO2  gas emissions was fuel combustion associated with electricity generation, direct combustion and transport.

• Agriculture was the main source of methane emissions – predominantly from livestock digestive processes – with small contributions from waste and fugitive emissions.

• Agriculture was also the main source of N2O emissions which arose from agricultural soils due to microbial and chemical transformations associated with nitrogen fertiliser.

• HFCs, PFCs and SF6 emissions resulted from the industrial processes and product use sector, including – for example, HFC emissions from air conditioning and refrigeration units, PFC emissions from aluminium smelting and SF6 emissions from electricity supply and distribution network.

Other graphs of interest:

Per capita emissions by state compared

Fossil gas consumption compared to population. Note the plateau in gas consumption since 2016.

Transport emissions by category. Note: The domestic aviation sub-category experienced the largest growth, with emissions increasing by 254.8% between 1990 and 2019 – in 2019 it contributed 7.8% of transport emissions. This reflects growth in business and tourism-related air travel, with the number of domestic passengers at Melbourne Airport increasing from 4.8 million in 1990 to 25.7 million in 2019 (BITRE 2021b). 

Victoria’s agriculture sector comprises 17.1 per cent of the states emissions. Agriculture is the main siurce of methane emissions – predominantly from livestock digestive processes – with small contributions from waste and fugitive emissions. This is an important area to tackle with seaweed additives to reduce methane. Unfortunately the Federal Government has no plan to reduce methane emissions in agriculture and has refused to sign the Global Methane Pledge.

Victoria’s Land Use and Land Use Change Forestry (LULUCF) emissions appear to be plateauing since 2017. They have been net negative since 2012.

LULUCF emissions from land converted to Forest

Net emissions from grasslands. Grasslands are often ignored for their soil organic carbon sequestration capabilities.  

Scope 1 and 2 emissions by economic sector. Ordinary citizens can make a big difference to Residential sector emissions.

References;

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