Australia Reports 5% Drop in Carbon Emissions Thanks to Lockdowns and Gorgon CCS Plant

Australia’s carbon emissions dropped by 5% even as it approved a €379 million gas-fired power station just this month; Gorgon CCS Plant major contributor to unexpected reduction in emissions

Uranquity LNG Power Station in Australia, Credit: Bidgee, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

Uranquity LNG Power Station in Australia, Credit: Bidgee, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

Australia has reported a 5% drop in carbon emissions last year. The reasons are manifold: the rapid growth of the country’s wind and solar energy sector, pandemic-related lockdowns impacting the transport sector and a rise in the capture and storage of carbon emissions at the country’s massive LNG project, Gorgon. The Australian government reported that its carbon emissions dropped by 26 million tonnes to average at 499 million tonnes of emissions in 2020, as compared to the year before.

This steep reduction means that Australia has outperformed the targets set by the Paris Agreement by almost 6-8%. According to the Agreement, Australia committed to bringing emissions down by 26-28% (below 2005 levels) by the end of this decade. However, Australia pegged its emissions at just 20% (below 2005 levels) last year itself.

Lockdowns forced by the Covid-19 pandemic hit the transport sector the hardest. Otherwise the third-largest polluter among all industries in Australia, lockdowns ensured emissions dropped drastically from vehicles on land, sea and the air. Carbon capture and storage technology also contributed significantly to the drop in carbon emissions. Although Australia witnessed a rise in LNG plants which pushed up the country’s carbon emissions, the massive Gorgon plant’s carbon capture and storage plant managed to absorb a large quantity of these emissions.

Responding to the press, Australia’s Minister for Energy said that the country was on track to and beat their 2030 Paris target. However, not everyone has received the news with pride. Australia has the highest levels of carbon emissions among the world’s richest nations. The government has refused to set targets more in line with the country’s top position as a global polluter and carbon emissions emitter. This is unlike major powers such as Japan and America, which have set far more ambitious targets to be achieved by the end of this decade.

One of the biggest contributor’s to Australia’s carbon emissions is the power sector. The industry alone accounts for one-third of all emissions produced by the country. This is despite a drop of nearly 5% in coal-fired and gas-fired power plants. Ironically, the Australian government gave the green signal to a €379 million gas-fired power station just this month.

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