- Peter Ker
- The Age, January 12, 2009
VICTORIA is driving Australia's carbon pollution problem, with the Garden State being revealed as Australia's worst greenhouse performer across a number of emissions indicators in 2008.
An audit of Australia's major population centres revealed Victoria increased its electricity production last year, grew its total greenhouse emissions and increased the percentage of emissions from the dirtiest sources.
In a further indictment, the Climate Group's 2008 emissions audit showed Victoria's performance to be at odds with that of New South Wales, where a range of greenhouse indicators were lower than 2007 levels.
Australia's three most populous states — NSW, Victoria and Queensland — recorded a combined emissions rise of 1.3 per cent in 2008. Victoria's contribution to that rise was disproportionately high, producing an extra 2.2 million tonnes, a rise of 2.1 per cent.
The dirtiest source of power — coal-fired power stations — appears to be playing a bigger role in Australia's energy needs.
Electricity generation across the three states was 1.3 per cent higher, yet emissions from electricity rose by 2 per cent.
The report said the imbalance was due to the fact that "more electricity was produced from coal-fired generators and less from gas and renewable sources".
While coal-fired power stations in the Latrobe Valley provided almost 60 per cent of the state's emissions, the audit revealed Victoria was also increasing its petrol emissions.
Climate Group director Rupert Posner said stronger economic conditions and population growth in Victoria than in New South Wales may have partly caused the disparity.
Mr Posner said also the nature of the electricity grid meant that some power created in Victoria would be used by consumers in other states.
But Mr Posner said ultimately emissions were rising at a time when Australia needed to be reducing its carbon footprint.
"Victoria has to take responsibility for the emissions it created in this state. Even if it exports the electricity, Victoria is getting an economic benefit for that," he said. "You can come up with all sorts of excuses or reasons to justify why … but the reality is emissions need to go down and they didn't."
The Rudd Government last month set targets for Australia to reduce its emissions by at least 5 per cent below 2000 levels by 2020.
The Brumby Government, which approved the construction of a new coal-fired power plant for Victoria in 2008, defended its record yesterday, saying emissions improvements had been made on a per capita basis.
"Victoria's per capita energy-related emissions have fallen by 5.4 per cent from 2000 to 2008," said Government spokesman Stephen Moynihan.