Australia set to record lowest CO2 emissions since 1998, due to coronavirus

Australia’s carbon dioxide emissions dropped to their lowest levels in more than two decades over the past financial year, official data has suggested, as coronavirus restrictions demolished consumption of jet fuel and petrol.

Compared with the 12 months prior, Australia’s CO2 emissions are expected to fall 8 per cent over the 2019-20 financial year, to their lowest levels since 1998.

Final data, due in November, is forecast to see annual emissions drop to 518 million tonnes of CO2, 10 million tonnes lower than the previous year.

The Federal Government’s quarterly update of Australia’s Greenhouse Gas Inventory shows emissions from jet fuel are expected to see the steepest drop, falling by 79 per cent in the three months to June, compared to the same quarter in 2019.

Emissions from petrol usage are also expected to fall by more than a quarter over the same period.

Emissions Reduction Minister Angus Taylor said the projected falls in emissions were due to “unsustainable” restrictions on the movement of Australians.

“With the impacts of COVID-19 restrictions being felt across the economy, emissions have reduced as expected,” he said.

Increase in renewables generation drives confirmed drop

The data, released today, also provides final figures on Australia’s emissions up to March of this year.

It shows a fall in emissions of 1.4 per cent in the year to March 2020, compared with the same period a year earlier.

The largest falls in emissions were recorded in the electricity and agriculture sectors, reflecting an increase in electricity generated from renewables and a subsequent decline in demand for coal-generated power.

Falls in emissions from agriculture have been linked to the ongoing effects of the drought, which led to a contraction in the number of livestock in Australia.

The report notes that as conditions improve, many farms are expected to be restocked.

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