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Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage
The Hon Dr David Kemp, MP

Thursday, 18 September 2003

Subject: Latest Greenhouse Emission Figures Released in the 2001 National Greenhouse Gas Inventory

Dr David Kemp: Today I'm releasing the 2001 National Greenhouse Gas Inventory. This is something that we do each year now. Under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Australia has undertaken to provide an annual accounting of its greenhouse gas emissions.

You may remember that in August last year, I announced the first of these account, annual accountings. This year I'm announcing the accounting for the following year for which we have data. That is the year 2001.

The 2001 National Greenhouse Gas Inventory has got a very satisfactory result for Australia. We find that our national target is now well within reach. We've set ourselves to work towards a target of 108% of 1990 emissions.

Last year, the accounting showed that, on the existing measures, we would reach 111%. This year, the national accounting shows that on existing measures, we would be at 110%. In other words, only 2% above the target. So existing measures are working exceedingly well and, of course, the Government is already working on other measures that we aim to bring us within our target.

So the Government is very satisfied with these results. They are results that show that Australia is putting into place effective measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This is something that all sectors of the community have to do. It’s a matter for the agricultural sector where land use change, of course, has been and continues to be a significant contributor to greenhouse emissions.

Equally of course the energy sector continues to grow because we have a growing economy, a very successful economy and that is continuing to push up greenhouse gas emissions from the energy sector. So these are all matters that we need to take into account as we look down the track.

But the result that I'm announcing today is a very satisfactory result for Australia. It shows that what we are doing is working, that we are in fact stabilising at the moment our greenhouse gas emissions. One of the very interesting features of the report today shows that in 2001, greenhouse gas emissions were actually slightly lower than they were in 1990.

Now that is something one doesn't want to place too much weight on perhaps because these figures move around and we have to accept the fact that accounting procedures will show some fluctuation in the figures. But the fact that greenhouse gas emissions in 2001 are lower than they were in 1990 shows that much of what has been put into place is having a very good effect.

And certainly the decline in land clearing has contributed to this. And that decline continues.

Question: But the bottom line is that greenhouse gas emissions will rise over this decade, even though it might just be a little bit over the Kyoto target.

Dr David Kemp: Well our intention is that we'll be working to achieve that Kyoto target. And the good news today is that it shows that we're really right on track to achieve the Kyoto target. We're already within 2% of the Kyoto target on existing measures and the Government is currently considering measures that should bring us in on or even below the target.

Well at the moment, we're having discussions, as you know, with landholders in Queensland about further restraints in land clearing in that State. Land use change is a contributor to Australia's greenhouse gas emissions and we believe that we can reach very satisfactory agreements that will reduce that land use change still further and that will contribute to achieving the 108% target.

Question: If you are going to meet the target, why don’t you ratify the Kyoto treaty? (phonetic)

Dr David Kemp: Well look, the Labor Party thinks that you can simply sign off on an unsatisfactory international treaty that is going to push industries and jobs out of Australia and achieve something. Now you can't achieve anything except by hard work and by practical measures, and that's what the Government's put in place. The Government has committed almost a billion dollars to greenhouse gas abatement.

Those measures are working. The latest estimates are that they will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by some 67 million tonnes a year by the period of 2008 to 2012. Now that is a remarkably good result. They also show that the greenhouse gas intensity of the Australian economy is declining and the latest estimates are that it will decline by some 44% by 2012.

That means that for every dollar of GDP that we produce, we're producing fewer and fewer greenhouse gas emissions. That's a very good performance.

The latest accounting I think also shows how effective the existing measures are. We've got legislation in the Parliament at the moment that is designed to restrain the use of synthetic greenhouse gases. That legislation, when passed, which is now factored into these projections, will mean a reduction of some 6 million tonnes a year of greenhouse gas emissions. So that contributes to the improve result that I'm able to announce today.

Thanks very much.

Commonwealth of Australia