If government and industry projections for fossil fuel expansions are realised, and if the rest of the world adopts policies consistent with the Paris Agreement, Australia could be responsible for up to 17 per cent of global emissions by 2030, according to new research.

When emissions from Australia’s current coal, oil and gas exports (3.6 per cent of global total) are added to domestic emissions (1.4 per cent of global total), Australia’s contribution to the global climate pollution footprint is already about 5 per cent, the research by Berlin-based science and policy institute Climate Analytics finds.

“This report confirms Australia is on track to become one of the world’s worst contributors to climate damage,” said the Australian Conservation Foundation’s Climate Change & Clean Energy program manager, Gavan McFadzean.

“Burning coal and gas is the number one cause of the climate crisis and Australia is now the number one exporter of both, with quantities projected to increase dramatically in coming years.

“When we add Australia’s exported emissions to our domestic emissions, Australia rockets to equal fifth on the list of major global climate polluters, alongside Russia and behind only India, the European Union, the USA and China.

“With planned coal and gas expansions, Australia could account for up to 17 per cent of global emissions by 2030, with Australian coal responsible for 12 per cent of global emissions by then.

“If Adani’s mine and all the other coal mines proposed for the region reach full production by 2030, the Galilee Basin on its own could account for up to 5.45 per cent of global climate pollution in 2030.

“Liquified natural gas is also a large and growing pollution problem, with Australia on track to become the world’s biggest LNG exporter, producing around a fifth of the world’s LNG.

“Based on government and industry projections, Australia’s domestic and exported gas emissions could account for up to 3.4 per cent of global climate pollution by 2030. 

“Australia’s planned fossil fuel expansions contradict global efforts to address climate change and are completely inconsistent with the global energy transition that is needed to meet the critical Paris Agreement goals of keeping global warming under a 2°C threshold and pursuing efforts to avoid passing a 1.5°C threshold.

“Instead of encouraging new fossil fuel projects, a responsible Federal Government would recognise that most of Australia’s fossil fuel reserves must stay in the ground and would facilitate the necessary rapid transition to clean, renewable energy, while working actively to support communities that will be affected by this transition.”

Read Climate Analytics’ report, Evaluating the significance of Australia’s global fossil fuel carbon footprint

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