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Emissions increase yet our target gets smaller? Please explain

For those of you who glaze over when numbers get flung around, I will try to keep this short.

Our 2020 target is to reduce emissions by 5% based on 2000 levels.

At the end of March, Australia’s emissions were 1.9% below emissions in 2000.

In the June quarter, national emissions increased 1.3% relative to the previous quarter, the greatest increase in a quarter since 2004.

Yet they claim that our emissions for the year to June 2018 were now 2.4% below emissions in 2000.

How do you increase emissions by 1.3% and then claim we are 0.5% closer to our target?

Please explain.




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  1. Pete

    Kaye, short answer, employ a good statistican, preferabbly one who has worked for the banks or APRA.
    Remember, there are stats and then there are govt stats.

  2. totaram

    Pete: these aren’t even stats. These are simple numbers and Kaye Lee is complaining about the use of arbitrary arithmetic operations on those numbers to reach “desired” results. Her questions are completely rhetorical, since we know that this govt. does not believe in proper arithmetic, in the fond hope that the voters are too busy to notice their fraud. Unfortunately, for the government, the voters are beginning to notice, it seems, and they are a bit annoyed. Rightly should we all be annoyed, and I hope we remain annoyed until we are able to start making improvements.

  3. Diannaart

    Thank you, Kaye Lee, for concise expression of what really should be bleeding obvious.

    The less a government does towards mitigating green house emissions (AKA pollution) via regulations and/or incentives, the more emissions will increase.

  4. New England Cocky

    Well Kaye Lee as you know statistics is a field best left to the statisticians who are the only people who can interpret their own statistics.

    Simple mathematics tell you that the percentage of a small number is always smaller than the percentage of a larger number.

    So, if you start with a large number and reduce it by a large percentage you get a smaller number, then because it is a smaller number you can increase it by a large percentage and show that the answer is always less than the original number.

    Let me demonstrate with a simple example:

    Say we have 100 units of pollution and reduce that by 40%. This means we now have 60 units of pollution. But if we increase our new pollution level by 40% we only increase our total pollution levels to 60 + (40/100 X 60) = 24 units for a total of 60 +24 units = 84 units.

    Therefore we have saved 16 units of old pollution by increasing new pollution.


  5. Kaye Lee

    But we are not changing the basis for comparison NEC. Our reductions are all compared to a baseline of the emissions from 2000 which can’t change. So we are at a certain place below 2000 emissions, we increase our emissions, but go further below 2000 emissions? It makes no sense.

    (I do get your percentage example which is very true but does not explain this anomaly)

  6. Shaun Newman

    Labo State governments are pressing ahead with renewable energy and hopefully, the Queensland government will press ahead with a massive hydroelectric power station on the mighty Burdekin Falls Dam in N.Q.

  7. Kaye Lee

    What’s more, they have once again claimed land use emissions reduction with no evidence.

    “In 2017-18, the LULUCF sector accounted for a net sink of 4 per cent of Australia’s national inventory. Complete sets of processed satellite images are not yet available to support the calculation of emissions estimates for 2017 and 2018. Therefore, these preliminary estimates are subject to change and have a greater level of uncertainty than the other sectors in the national inventory.”

  8. Keith

    Bru Pearce puts temperature increase in perspective, the vimeo film was created 3years ago, temperature has since increased:

    Emissions began going up after Abbott knocked off the carbon tax, nobody has yet stated they received reduced energy bills.

  9. New England Cocky

    @Kaye Lee: Oh dear, I recognise that it is Slow Sunday … but THAT is the very reason for the example!!

    Of course there is no change when compared to the original 2000 statistics!! The whole exercise is a matter of incompetent smoke & mirrors for the naive and stupid to justify a “Know Nothing” policy!!!

  10. Vikingduk

    The LNP determine what numbers are permitted in straya — providing they are the right color and religion, of course and will take none of your backchat or questioning. After all, this C02 crap is all a lefty conspiracy sponsored by the Chinese and if us upstanding, born to rule arseholes tell you the numbers are down they are down, they’re our numbers, imported from the trump’s brilliant, genius brain and you lefties should stick to slurping your pumpkin lattes.

    All you need do is use the eleventy quotient when playing with numbers and you’ll get the far right answer every time.

    Really, I don’t know why I bother explaining this secret men’s business to y’all.

  11. Kaye Lee

    Minister for the Environment Melissa Price is also obviously employed because she has no interest in secret men’s business. I STILL can’t get an answer from anyone in her office as to when, or even if, the 5-yearly report on State of the Forests due this year will be published. No-one seems to know what I am even talking about when I ask.

  12. David Bruce

    I don’t have an answer, just six problems with the whole climate change debate. For a start, I know for a fact that our climate on Planet Earth is changing. Following on from that, I don’t believe we are being told the truth, nor the full story about why it is changing, what can we do about it, and what are the consequences if we can’t prevent it?

    For example, what if we are entering a new Ice Age?

    Here are the six problems with the conventional climate change narrative from Space Weather News, LLC.

  13. David Bruce

    Item #4, I have been monitoring for some time now.

    The Climate is Changing Unexpectedly – #1

    It Is Difficult to Trust What You Hear – #2

    The Future is Uncertain – #3

    The Entire Solar System is Shifting – #4

    The Sun May Dictate Our Future – #5

    Someone is Screwing With the Weather – #6

    Top 6 Climate Change Problems

  14. Keith

    David Bruce

    I wonder where your blog source obtained information from,a site with the initials NT perhaps. I’m not in the habit of referencing pseudo science so only will give a hint in relation to the nefarious site. The reason I wonder, is that NT offered a number of references about the sun’s influence on changing climate. A number of the references checked used to support the sun’s influence, stated clearly that the studies supported anthropogenic climate change. In other words there was cherry picking or down right fraud going on.

    If the sun was influencing climate, then we should already have been going into a colder climate, except 2016 has been the warmest year recorded. Why is 1998 no longer mentioned by deniers, it was the datum point they had previously pushed hard? It had been a case that 1998 had been an el nino year, non el nino years since have been warmer.

    Without greenhouse gases in the atmosphere we would have an uninhabitable planet. That is an apriori fact; that is, it is true under all circumstances. We happen to be pushing CO2 into the atmosphere that had been sequestered as carbon in the form of coal and oil over many millions of years. The end result of burning fossil fuels is CO2, where the CO2 has come from can be identified ..
    The other point is that we are metaphorically using fossil fuels in a second in comparison to how long it took to be created.
    Prior to the Industrial Revolution CO2 made up about 270 parts per million in the atmosphere, now it is over 400 ppm.

    For water vapour to increase in the atmosphere there needs to be warming, CO2 is part of that warming process, meaning less CO2 equals less water vapour. The referenced youtube site gives an indication of the water bombs continually going off; that is, excess water vapour in the atmosphere suddenly producing a month or more supply of rain in a matter of hours.

    A youtube Channel began to release films of extreme weather events in August 2016, as of November 2018 there have been 145 episodes produced, each episode shows a number of extreme events.

    Matters shown in reference for 5th November to 19th November2018:

    “00:13 The USA: The Camp Fire, Woolsey Fire & Winter Storm Avery
    20:13 Kuwait: Flash floods
    27:12 Jordan: Flash floods
    29:08 Saudi Arabia: Floods
    31:06 India: Tropical Cyclone Gaja
    32:50 Indonesia: Tasikmalaya & Dompu floods
    35:54 Vietnam: Tropical Storm Toraji
    37:40 Thailand: Southern floods
    38:11 Brazil: Rio landslide & Belo Horizonte flash flood
    40:54 Turkey: Bodrum flash flood
    42:30 Spain: Flash floods
    45:24 Temperature Data”

  15. Judith W

    There are a number of ways that Australia’s emissions can increase yet still be closer to the target but the main way is to change the way the emissions are measured. So forests can be accounted for in a number of ways – recategorising forests a renewable energy source is a good way to reduce emissions I believe.
    Another way is to employ statistics. As you have noted, use numbers and many eyes glaze over, As a mathematician (and therefore somewhat cynical) student of statistics I discovered that the main purpose of statistics is to form a hypothesis and apply various statistical methods until you find one that proves your desired hypothesis.
    If the government was to employ two different statistical methods it would be quite easy to create the paradox you have presented …

  16. Mick HORNE

    Kaye, to put some figures into what you have written . . . .

    For convenience, lets assume the 2000 level was 100 tons
    Therefore our 2020 target of a 5% reduction is 95 tons.

    At the end of March 2018 we were 1.9% below the 2000 level of 100 tons
    = 98.1 tons

    At the end of June we were 1.3% above the end of March 2018 level of 98.1 tons

    = 99.38 tons [ 1.3% of 98.1 is 1.28 tons] 1.28 + 98.1 = 99.38 tons

    99.38 is 0.62% below the 2000 figure of 100 tons.

    So yes, we have reduced our emisions by 0.62% of the 2000 figure, and NOT the 2.4% reduction they claimed.

    Hope this helps. Cheers

  17. Ill fares the land

    In any case, even if the LNP weren’t playing games with statistics (note how they make a claim without ever substantiating their claim with the underlying arithmetic), if emissions compared to the magical 2000 figure are only 1.9% lower in one quarter and then increase in the next, how is it likely that even a modest 5% target could be achieved by 2020? Even if the figure were 2.4%, doesn’t then a 5% target seem a very, very long way off?

    Unhappily, the LNP, like most politicians, THINK they are really clever and their departments also THINK they are clever in the way they can supply figures that support false claims. By extension, they think we are all pretty damn stupid, so while some might challenge their figures, most blindly accept the claims. In fact, we are, as a collective, not very smart at all – many believe that climate change is real, but won’t change their consumerist and wasteful habits. Of course, even worse is that there is no evidence our politicians are anywhere near as clever as they think they are.

    You can be assured that this will also divide along party lines. Those who “barrack” for the LNP will look at the figures and conclude that the LNP are doing a wonderful job – despite their “knowledge” that the claims climate change is real and is becoming more evident and problematic in terms of unusual weather events are clearly false.

  18. Graham Parton

    The first target was based on 1990 emissions but that was eventually replaced by a 2000 target. Emissions increased in that decade so it was a higher baseline. I’ve heard successive government talk about 2010 as a baseline – all a substitute for actually doing anything.

  19. Matters Not

    Ill fares the land re:

    THINK they are really clever and their departments also THINK they are clever in the way they can supply figures that support false claims

    Yes there are lies, damn lies and statistics and there’s also the issue of who should generate, issue and release such statistics and when. Departments, undoubtedly, have the capacity to generate useful and correct information but perhaps they don’t have the authority or permission to release same because they are under the control and direction of a Minister?

    Or do we want a completely different common sense in which some notion of truth over-rides Ministers, Heads of Departments and the like? And who should decide? Then there’s the issue of accountability. Who should be responsible for what, when and how? Just askin …

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