Australia

Delayed government data shows greenhouse gas levels continue to rise

Australia's latest greenhouse gas data shows emissions rose compared to the previous quarter. (AAP)

Australia's latest greenhouse gas data shows emissions are continuing to rise, with Labor saying it's a "fantasy" that the nation will meet reduction targets.

Labor says it's a government "fantasy" that Australia is on track to meet its emissions reduction targets, after delayed data showed greenhouse gas levels continue to rise.

After missing a parliamentary deadline to report on greenhouse gas levels for the December quarter by last Friday, Energy and Emissions Reduction Minister Angus Taylor released the data on Thursday.  

The December quarter figures show a 0.8 per cent increase compared to the previous quarter and a 0.7 per cent rise from the same time last year.

Despite the increase, Mr Taylor maintains Australia is on track to meet its Paris Agreement targets to reduce emissions by 26-28 per cent on 2005 levels by 2030. 

"Our plan is laid out to the last tonne," Mr Taylor told ABC radio on Friday. 

Scott Morrison with Energy Minister Angus Taylor.
Energy Minister Angus Taylor is not concerned by the increase in pollution.
AAP

LNG exports are largely behind the country's increasing emissions, but Mr Taylor believes credit should be given for exporting a less carbon-intensive power source to other nations.

"What we're seeing is gas playing a bigger share in the fuel sources for electricity grids across Asia and the world and that's a good thing," he told ABC radio on Friday. 

Mr Taylor took over responsibility for emissions reduction from former environment minister Melissa Price after the election. 

He says Australia is now almost 12 per cent below its 2005 levels and emissions have decreased by 9.5 per cent in 30 years.

However, government projections show more than half that target can be achieved through carryover credits from achieving goals of the Kyoto protocol.

Although Australia met its target in the first Kyoto agreement, it allowed for an increase of emissions.

Labor energy spokesman Mark Butler speaks during Question Time .
Labor's energy spokesman Mark Butler says it's a "fantasy" that Australia is on track to meet its Paris Agreement targets.
AAP

Labor's energy spokesman Mark Butler says it's a government "fantasy" that Australia is on track to reach the Paris targets.

Mr Taylor's announcement focused on the data per capita, while talking up the benefits of LNG.

"Today's release shows once again that the Liberals will try every trick in the book to avoid scrutiny of their record on tackling climate change," Mr Butler said.

Calls for a rethink on climate policy

Greens MP Adam Bandt has vowed to chase the government and department for answers over why the release of the data was delayed, and why it was given to select media before being made public.

Mr Taylor insists the government's climate solutions plan will achieve the Paris target, primarily through paying companies and communities for projects to reduce pollution.

The plan says the Battery of the Nation hydro electricity project will reduce emissions by 25 million tonnes by 2030, while a national vehicle strategy will reduce pollution by 10 million tonnes.

Climate change
Action on climate change was a key issue during the election campaign.
AAP

The government has also accounted for "technology improvements" to reach the Paris goal.

Vivien Thomson from the Australian Firefighters Climate Alliance has warned that rising emissions are exposing communities to higher risks from more intense bushfires and other extreme weather events.

Ms Thomson says the climate-fuelled disasters stretch the mental and physical limits of firefighters, and cost billions in clean up and recovery costs.

The Climate Council says the government needs to rethink its approach to reducing emissions, as levels have increased over the past four years.

"The prime minister and his new cabinet have an opportunity for a fresh start. We cannot waste another three years," Climate Council CEO Amanda McKenzie said.

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