Get ready for the startling news that Australians have been great corporate “green” citizens — on a per capita basis, all of us are so much more carbon-efficient (sic) than we were 25 years ago. Back then, in those dark days, people frivolously heated and cooled their homes without a thought to how many sinful cyclones they were creating in the Philippines. They drove recklessly in fossil fueled cars, and windmills were used to pump water a mere 10 metres, not to stop floods in Pakistan.
The amazing thing is that Australia’s population has grown by a whopping 38% since 1990. And our emission have grown with that, but the emissions per person has declined by 28% per person. Why aren’t the Greens more excited?
As with all these statistics, watch the pea for the real story. Most of that decline is not due to solar panels, pink batts, bird blending wind towers, energy efficiency, or even economic trends — it is predominantly due to cutting down fewer trees. The “improvements” are in the “land use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF)” sector, of which the “LUCF” basically means deforestation, afforestation and reforestation. The decline is mostly thanks to farmers like Peter Spencer, who was not allowed to cut down trees on his land (and who, by the way, will be back to finish his case against the Commonwealth in February).
Without accounting for regrowth of trees since 1990, our per capita emissions would only have declined by 8%.
Unfortunately the graph in the report does not go back to 1990 when per capita emissions were 33.4 t.*
The details for the Quarterly update:
- In 2013-14, national inventory emissions per capita (excluding LULUCF) were 23.2 t CO2-e per person, compared to 25.2 t CO2-e in 1989-90, representing a 7.8% decline.
- When LULUCF activities are included, the 2013-14 estimate is 24.1 t CO2-e per person, compared to 33.4 t CO2-e in 1989-90, representing a 27.9% decline.
- Australia’s population grew strongly over this period, from 17.1 million in June 1990 to over 23.5 million in June 2014 (growth of 37.8%).
LULUCF is a nice euphemism for letting farms and native bush go to pot, largely unmanaged, and reach a state of high-fire-risk bonanza fuel loads. They hold a lot of carbon, but it’s only until the next blaze releases it all back to the sky. We live in a land of eucalyptus that love fires.
This week, as fires threatened outer suburbs of Perth, West Australian Firefighters are calling crown land fire laws absurd.
Vice President of the Association of Volunteer Bush Fire Brigades, Dave Gossage, said holes in the law have allowed governments to get away with neglecting to adequately manage bush land that presents fire risks without accountability.
“Under the Bushfires Act in WA; that Act does not bind the Crown,” Mr Gossage said.
About 93 per cent of WA’s land area is classified as Crown and include areas that were fire-ravaged.
The Bullsbrook fire affected land managed by local, state and federal governments as well as private property.
As the governments are not bound by the legislation, the land can be neglected by the relevant agency and that agency will not be held accountable.
“So you’ve got this situation, as has been previously reported, a private landowner can get fined for not doing their fire breaks but yet on the other side of the fence, on Crown land, they don’t have to do anything,” Mr Gossage said.
“And yet that will be more of a risk than what is on the private property.
“It’s bit like with the Bullsbrook fires.
“You’ve got federal land, there’s no legal requirement for them to do anything and it’s absurd.”
Remember, in Australia if you personally try to clear a firebreak on your land to protect you from Crown mismanagement, you could go to jail
That’s what happened to Maxwell Szulc.
[Jan 2013] “…one man tried to reduce the risk of fires and cleared firebreaks on his property in WA in 2011 and is currently in jail for it, serving a 15 month sentence. Most of the cleared land had been cleared before in 1970 or 1983. This was mere scrubby regrowth. He was trying to separate his property from DEC (Dept of Environment and Conservation) managed land with a 20m wide fire-break
Some will say that Maxwell Szulc is technically not in jail for clearing his land, but for contempt of court. He deliberately went against a court injunction that forbid him from clearing more land. Many will write him off as a nutter who should have filled in the management plan that the DEC asked him too.
But this is the key. Szulc is a conscientious objector, and cleared the land as a protest against laws he sees as completely unjust.
Szulc believes that his land is his land, and that he should be able to manage it without asking permission from anyone. Those “management plans” sound innocent, but as other farmers (like Matt and Janet Thompson and Sid Livesey) have found out, the management plan is an insidious form of creeping fascism.”
*Corrected typo “Mt” to “t”