Is Australia's fossil fuel consumption meeting Kyoto targets ?|
by Dave Kimble at www.peakoil.org.au
The Kyoto Protocol, which Australia negotiated but didn't sign, sets a target for average greenhouse gas production for the 2008-12 period that is 8% above 1990 levels. Most of those gases come from burning fossil fuels which liberates Carbon dioxide, but the Kyoto Protocol also looks at other greenhouse gases, such as Chloro-Fluoro-Carbons (CFCs) that are released from industrial processes, and also gives credits for increasing natural vegetation 'carbon sinks'.
This 'Kyoto formula' means that our greenhouse score is not quite the same thing as our consumption of fossil fuels, and politicians (especially Minister for Environment, Senator Campbell) use this difference to squeeze out of difficult questions while maintaining that we are on target to meet our Kyoto target.
So the question is : what has been happening to our fossil fuel consumption since 1990 ?
Source data : BP Statistical Review of World Energy (2006) from www.bp.com
So since 1990, Australia has been increasing its fossil fuel consumption at a fairly uniform rate of about 2.3% per year. By 2005 we were using 36.7% more fossil fuel (expressed in "oil equivalents") than 1990.
If the trend lines shown above are extrapolated forward to 2012, then
the average fossil emissions for 2008-12 will be 53% over 1990 levels.
The Australian Government claims we are on track to meet our Kyoto target, but this view relies very much on counting the credits gained for bringing in the Queensland's Vegetation Management Act (the so-called 'tree-clearing ban') which the Queensland Opposition parties say they will repeal if they get into power.
So this credit is a once-off item that didn't require us to change any fuel use practices,
and has allowed Australians to carry on using fossil fuels as if Global Warming doesn't matter.
Our fossil fuel consumption will have increased by 53%, but we still meet our Kyoto target.
Aren't we clever ?