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Australia overdoes carbon reduction by 294Mt: could cool world by 0.0002C extra (maybe)

Reduction in gloabl temperature because of Australian carbon mitigation.

Absolutely best possible reduction in global temperature because of the latest announcement of a Australian carbon mitigation surplus.

Other countries are failing to meet their targets, but we’re not only achieving them, we’re overdoing it. And this is despite our obvious handicaps: like that we have rapid population growth, are further from everywhere and anywhere* except for Antarctica, and we’re the largest coal exporter in the world.

The latest Australian Greenhouse emissions figures are out, and the Energy Minister is very excited:

Emissions are now the lowest on a per capita and GDP basis in 28 years, having fallen 34 per cent and 58 per cent respectively since 1990. Just as Australia beat its first Kyoto target by 128 million tonnes of carbon dioxide, we are on track to easily surpass our 2020 target.

The latest data indicates we will overachieve by 294 million tonnes, a 30 per cent improvement on the year prior. When one considers one million tonnes of carbon abatement is equivalent to taking 300,000 cars off the road for a year, this is substantial.

Substantial?- Don’t undersell this — that’s like taking 88 million cars off the road! Holy hat! That’s 7% of the global fleet.

In the war of Big Numbers, let’s fight back with Very Small Ones.

Two hundred and ninety-four million tonnes sounds so impressive. But read the fine-print (so fine it isn’t usually printed) and it’s spread over eight years, not one, so it’s really a 37 million tonne a year “saving”.  Even if the IPCC were right, and CO2 mattered, even if we wanted things to get colder, and we ignore that half of what we emit goes straight to Davy Jones Locker, even then that’s all of two ten-thousandths of a degree.

See the calculations by Dr David Evans below. If miracles happen, we just made the world 0.0002C cooler. Which is zero degrees C if we round that number to the nearest thousandth of a degree.

Was that $8 billion dollars good value?

Minister Frydenburg is still bragging about how much he’s spent. Hasn’t he learnt?

The Turnbull Government is also supporting innovation which is driving down technology costs. The Clean Energy Finance Corporation has made more than $4 billion in investment commitments, around $3.5 billion under the Coalition, and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency has made more than $1 billion of grants, around half under the Coalition. There is much work to be done, but it is clear policy measures are working.

 As a curious aside, actual emissions from Australia are the same in 2000 as in 2020. There are some allowances for bits n pieces in there which means that 551 mt in 2020 is a “reduction” from 551 in the year 2000. See this table in the Fin Review: 

We’re schmucks, but effective ones.

Fairly dry dull emissions facts and calculations below


Thanks to Dr David Evans for the calculations:


Australian Bureau of Statistics (2017), Australian Demographic Statistics, pub. no. 3101

Boden, T.A., Marland, G., and Andres, R.J. (2017). Global, Regional, and National Fossil-Fuel CO2Emissions. Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Department of Energy, Oak Ridge, Tenn., U.S.A. doi 10.3334/CDIAC/00001_V2017.

Quarterly Update of Australia’s National Greenhouse Gas Inventory: June 2017 (incorporating September 2017 quarter emissions from the National Electricity Market)

*Not to forget New Zealand, of course.

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