Australia is the world’s third-biggest exporter and fifth-biggest miner of emissions related to fossil, a report which underscored the country’s role as a leader in the fossil fuel trade globally, disclosed.
Sometimes it’s politically debated that Australia is responsible only for 1.2% of global emissions at home, however, as per the analysis by progressive think tank The Australia Institute, it is just behind Russia and Saudi Arabia in exporting fossil fuels.
Combining what is burned at home and what it exports, Australia is in 5th position behind China, the US, Russia, and Saudi Arabia, being responsible for carbon dioxide emissions from extractive fossil industries.
The role of Australia is much bigger in the climate crisis than what global greenhouse accounting rules suggest, according to the report premise, and it is a fact. However, while comparing exports emissions from different countries, it goes even further than some previous analyses.
After Prime Minister Scott Morrison faced criticism over limited response of Australia to the climate crisis and its unwillingness to a rapid transition away from coal at the Pacific Islands Forum in Tuvalu, the report releases.
The institute’s report, presented by the senior researcher Tom Swann, challenges the claim of the government and opposition both stressing on the importance of the coal export industry to the economy and employment. It finds that the economy of the country is more diverse and less reliant on fossil fuels compared to the economy of most carbon exporters. Considering the broad range of goods it trades in, Australia ranks 24th for carbon intensity across all exports as per the report.
Based on the carbon dioxide potential, Australia contributes to 7% of global fossil-fuel exports. Between 2000 and 2015, its coal exports doubled and now make up 29% of the global coal trade. The exports of liquefied natural gas tripled over the same timeframe to 6% of the business, and continue to increase.
The Australian Conservation Foundation, which commissioned a research earlier, said Australia would be one of the worst contributors to a climate emergency as per the scenario.
“Australia is now the number one exporter of both coal and gas, and we are scheduled to push that off the charts in the next 10 years. We are looking to become an emissions superpower,” the foundation’s Gavan McFadzean said. “We are fortunate to have many of our emissions counted elsewhere but that doesn’t mean we’re not responsible for them.”
According to the report, exports are often downplayed in climate change policy because treaties focus on the demand for carbon-intensive products, not on the supply. The chances that increasing supply and supply infrastructure can “lock in” emissions increases are overlooked.
“The scale of exports from countries like Australia bring into stark relief why efforts to reduce emissions must limit both demand and supply,” it says.
The report says, in terms of domestic emissions, Australia ranked 14th even with only 0.3% of the global population. The greenhouse gas it emits is even more than 40 countries with bigger populations. Since the abolition of a carbon price scheme in 2014, national emissions have increased year-on-year although the government promises to reduce carbon dioxide from time to time.
Last week, as a member of the Pacific Islands Forum, Australia supported a call for developing and releasing long-term low emissions development strategies by countries within next year. As per the forum communiqué, this may include commitments and other necessary plans to achieve net-zero emissions target by 2050.