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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