Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions have hit record highs in some sectors, continuing an upward trend that began in 2013, according to delayed official figures released on Thursday.
The figures for the December quarter figures show a 0.8 per cent increase on the previous three months, and a 0.7 per cent rise from the same time last year.
The increase has again been pinned on the liquefied natural gas industry, with emissions rising in six sectors due to growing LNG exports, and steel and aluminium production.
Transport emissions rose 2.8 per cent over the year, due to a 10.9 per cent increase in diesel consumption.
Emissions in the electricity sector fell by 3.5 per cent in the year to December and agricultural pollution dropped by 3.3 per cent.
With the release of the figures, environmentalists have called on the federal government to change its approach to climate policy.
But Energy and Emissions Reduction Minister Angus Taylor said Australia’s emissions were now almost 12 per cent below 2005 levels.
The country has pledged to reduce emissions by 26 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030.
Government projections show more than half that target can be achieved through carryover credits from achieving goals of the Kyoto protocol.
Although Australia met its target in the first Kyoto agreement, it allowed for an increase of emissions.
While LNG exports are largely behind the country’s increasing emissions, Mr Taylor believes credit should be given for exporting a less carbon-intensive power source to other nations.
“The Morrison government is not going to trash successful Australian export industries that are reducing global emissions, in order to reduce Australian emissions,” he said.
Mr Taylor insists the government’s climate solutions plan will achieve the Paris target, primarily through paying companies and communities for projects to reduce pollution.
The plan says the Battery of the Nation hydro electricity project will reduce emissions by 25 million tonnes by 2030, while a national vehicle strategy will reduce pollution by 10 million tonnes.
The government has also accounted for “technology improvements” to reach the Paris goal.
However, the Climate Council said the government needed to rethink its approach to reducing emissions, as levels have increased in the past four years.
“The Prime Minister and his new cabinet have an opportunity for a fresh start. We cannot waste another three years,” Climate Council CEO Amanda McKenzie said.
“Australia is the sunniest country in the world and one of the windiest. We have great opportunities to tackle climate change, but we need effective federal policy.”
Under a Senate order, passed by Labor and the Greens in October last year, the government was supposed to release the emissions update within five months of the end of the relevant quarter.
However, the government missed its latest deadline, which was last Friday.