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Emu and ostrich farts save the day

Australia may not be very good at reducing emissions but we are unbelievably creative in manipulating figures to make it look like we are.

The latest quarterly greenhouse gas emissions were, predictably, released on Friday and, at first glance, it seemed like we had made some progress.

In the March update, our emissions were 0.5% above 2000 levels. The June update showed us being 0.8% below 2000 levels. That’s a big turnaround in three months.

Whilst there was a reduction in the agriculture sector due to the drought and in the electricity sector due to more renewables, increases in other sectors meant that “National emission levels for the June quarter 2019 were unchanged relative to the previous quarter, on a seasonally adjusted and weather normalised basis, but increased by 0.3 per cent in trend terms.”


How can trend emissions go up yet our level compared to 2000 go down?

So I read on to find that, since the March quarter, there have been some “Recalculations”.

They have revised some previous data on energy and fuel consumption etc and hey presto – we are now doing so much better without having to change a thing except the numbers.

But the biggest change came from recalculating ostrich and emu farts – I kid you not.

“A revision to the enteric fermentation emission factor for emus and ostriches has also resulted in a recalculation to agriculture for the entire time series.”

They are also flirting with a new way of recording emissions based on consumption rather than production. Without going into the details, that makes a big difference to emissions eg Emissions for the production-based inventory for the June quarter were 533 Mt CO2-e in 2016-17 whereas emissions associated with Australian consumption totalled 473 Mt CO2-e.

Just as with their new found love for quoting per capita or per dollar of GDP emissions (two completely irrelevant measurements when calculating our carbon budget), it’s all a pea and thimble trick to make it look like emissions are going down when they are actually going up.

But good to know the birdlife are doing their bit.


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  1. Terence Mills

    What does that say about cassowaries ?

  2. wam

    Hahaha, Kaye, what a discovery.
    I will be frightened to eat baked beans any more in case the government is monitoring my less than silent emissions and I get the blame for offsetting their clean coal activity

  3. Geoff Andrews

    Terence, they’re from Queensland so they don’t count.
    Re: the per capita calculation being irrelevant. If we are 0.3% of world population and we “only” contribute 1.3% of emissions, surely we’re punching above our weight? oi, oi,oi.

  4. Hungry Charley

    Um, I thought we farmed sheep and cattle – ruminants – with a completely different metabolism.

  5. Matters Not

    Re: the enteric fermentation emission factor. Apparently, the (international) study commenced in 2014 which doesn’t mean of course that such emissions began in that year. If those emissions are now seen to effect the measures, then surely they also effected/affected emissions way back then but weren’t counted. No doubt they would have liked to include the many, many feral camels that populate the outback but camels don’t contribute apparently. Buffalos do but that measure can keep for next year. Yes there are lies, damn lies and statistics.

    (BTW, the coalition cited in the above paper is not the LNP but an international effort.)

  6. Kaye Lee

    The footnote at the end of the paragraph containing the emu and ostrich news referenced “IPCC, 2019 Refinement to the 2006 IPCC Guidelines for the National Greenhouse Gas Inventories”.

    Perhaps they are relying on this paper which suggests that emus produce less methane than ostriches….

    I think the pheasant pluckers are just checking if we read these reports. Emus and ostriches….seriously?

    UPDATE….find it….10.2.4

  7. Andrew J Smith

    Related, article from ABC’s Crabbe about how the Libs Andrew Robb, came back to Canberra when on medical leave for depression, to blow up bipartisan climate change, and ruin Turnbull’s leadership opening the door for Abbott….

    As interesting or curious is how Robb claimed a change of heart on his long standing belief in the (pseudo science) ‘Limits to Growth’ theory (more sciency PR constructs) caused him to withdraw support.

    The ‘theory’ was cooked up in tandem with the Club of Rome ‘thinkers’ supported by fossil fuel related oligarchs…. also used by white nationalists to blame non European immigrants for environmental issues; very long game like Trump and Brexit, liberty for global corporates and eugenics for the masses.

    One would suggest that Robb and his denying millieu were not the intended audience for ‘Limits to Growth’, the intended audience is the centre left and environmentally aware to help seed confusion.

    Robb’s negative actions show success for climate change denial and avoiding legislative actions, ‘wheels within wheels’ and astro turfing.

    Of course I’m not suggesting Robb has any links with fossil fuel/mining industry and manipulating the LNP and Parliament 🙂

  8. Kaye Lee

    Don’t start me on Andrew Robb….

    Former Trade Minister Andrew Robb, whose fundraising vehicle, the Bayside Forum, received a $50,000 donation from Chinese property developer Huang Xiangmo the day the Chinese Free Trade agreement was signed, took a job as consultant to yet another Chinese billionaire, Ye Cheng, the day before the 2016 election was held.

    Mr Cheng’s company, Landbridge Group, was embroiled in controversy when it was awarded a 99-year lease over the port of Darwin.

    The real threat to our national security

    Then there was the obscene haste with with Australia’s wealthy bought up dairy and beef cattle farms as Robb was finalising the China Free Trade agreement

    In April 2016, Scott Morrison rejected a bid by Dakang Australia Holdings to buy the Kidman cattle empire, saying its planned purchase was contrary to the national interest but, by December, he had approved the sale to Gina Rinehart in partnership with Shanghai CRED.

  9. Vikingduk

    For the budding entrepreneur there would be a business opportunity here: fart jars, with the slogan — save gas, fart in a jar. The resultant emissions could then be used to fuel a methane burning power station. Win win.

  10. Brozza

    Do brain farts count?
    There’s been no shortage of them from the a-butthead, turdball and scummo gummints.

  11. David Stakes

    Since when has a Ostrich been part of our native fauna, maybe its the half dozen or so in zoos. All doing their bit.

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