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Wednesday, 31 August 1994
Page: 741

(Question No. 1543)


Senator Margetts asked the Minister for Primary Industries and Energy, upon notice, on 5 July 1994:

  With reference to the response of the Minister for Industry, Science and Technology (Senator Cook) to Senator Margetts' question without notice of 27 June 1994 in relation to the Greenhouse Round Table, and the energy demand and supply projects publications of the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics (ABARE):

  (1) Have carbon dioxide emissions from energy use been significantly reduced below the `business as usual' projections given in the past by ABARE.

  (2) What were the projected emission levels under `business as usual' projections, and what are the actual emission levels.

  (3) How much above the 1988 level are current emission levels.

  (4) What was the annual rate of emission reduction necessary in 1988 to arrive at the Toronto target (to reach a level of emissions 20 per cent below the level for 1988 by 2005) and what percentage of total emissions does that annual rate represent.

  (5) (a) What was the annual rate of emission reduction needed in 1992, the year of the Earth Summit, to reach the Toronto target; and (b) what percentage of total emissions does that annual rate represent.

  (6) (a) What is the annual rate of emission reduction needed in 1995 to reach the Toronto target; and (b) what percentage of total emissions does that annual rate represent.

  (7) Given our ratification of the Climate Change Convention with our commitment to stabilise emissions at 1990 levels: (a) how do 1994 levels of carbon dioxide emissions from energy use compare to those in 1990; and (b) what is the annual rate of emission reduction needed from 1995 to reach the Climate Change Convention target, and what percentage of total emissions does that annual rate represent.

  (8) What measures are being taken to ensure that industry reduces its emission levels.

  (9) What measures are being taken to ensure that best practice, such as the use of co-generation, conservation and other proven cost effective approaches, is being followed by industry and by State energy authorities.

  (10) What measures are being taken to ensure that State governments and other power producers are using the cleanest possible technologies, particularly as in Western Australia, where those options, such as co-generation or combined cycle gas, are clearly more economical than coal-fired power even without considering the cost of the environmental impacts.

  (11) What is the current unused potential power production from co-generation using existing or planned power sources.

  (12) What measures are being taken to ensure that the environmental and health costs of power generation (the `externalities') are being taken into account in public policy decisions.

  (13) (a) Does the Government consider it appropriate to include externalities as a cost factor in the price of power; and (b) what alternative mechanisms does the Government have in place to ensure that costs incurred by market factors are taken into account and reduced.

  (14) What potential "no-regrets" energy savings have been identified, and what percentage of current energy production does this represent.

  (15) What potential "no-regrets" reductions in greenhouse emissions have been identified, and what percentage of total emissions from electricity production does this represent.


Senator Collins —The answer to the honourable senator's question is as follows:

  (1) Carbon dioxide emissions from the energy sector decreased by 2.9% in 1991-92 and by 3.7% in 1992-93, compared to the "business as usual" projections released in 1991 by the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Research Economics (ABARE).

  (2) Projected emissions under the "business as usual" scenario for 1991-92 and 1992-93 were 298.7 and 305.7 million tonnes of carbon dioxide respectively. This compares with actual emissions of 290.0 and 294.4 million tonnes of carbon dioxide respectively.

  (3) Emissions of carbon dioxide from the energy sector in 1992-93 (the latest year for which data is available) were 294.4 million tonnes. Emissions in 1987-88 were 262.5 million tonnes.

  (4) The Toronto target referred to in the question has not been adopted as an international commitment. In numerical terms, however, an average decline of between 2-3 million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year would have been required in the period 1988 to 2005 to reach a 20% reduction. This would have required an annual reduction of 1.1% of emissions over this seventeen year period.

  (5) (a) An annual reduction of between 5-7 million tonnes per year would have been required between 1992 and 2005 to reach a 20% reduction. (b) This would have required an annual reduction of 2.4% of emissions over this thirteen year period.

  (6) (a) Based on forecasts released by ABARE in 1993, a reduction of between 7.5-12.5 million tonnes per year would be required between 1995 and 2005 to reach a 20% reduction. (b) This would require an annual reduction of 4% of emissions over this ten year period.

  (7) Policies and measures adopted by Australia accord with our commitments under the convention. While returning to 1990 levels is an implicit target in the convention, it is not a commitment as such. Moreover, neither the convention nor our greenhouse policy response requires meeting a target in any one sector or any one gas. Both the convention and government policy adopt a comprehensive approach to include all gasses from all sectors. The following answers are given against that background.

   (a) No data on 1994 levels of carbon dioxide emissions is available. However, based on the 1993 forecast, emissions of carbon dioxide in 1994 are projected to increase by 7% over the 1990 level. (b) Based on these forecasts, a reduction of 8.2% per annum would be required from 1995 to 2000 to reach the benchmark in the convention of a return by 2000 to 1990 levels.

  NOTE: Some of the statistics used in relation to current levels of greenhouse emissions by Australia are subject to further examination by the National Greenhouse Gas Inventory Committee. The Committee is expected to release revised statistics by September 1994. The ABARE publication ENERGY-Demand Supply Projections on which most of the above figures are based, relies heavily on the biennial Fuel and Electricity Survey, which was last completed for the year 1991-92.

  (8) The Commonwealth Government and industry are developing cooperative arrangements to advance Australia's national greenhouse performance. These will involve industry's recording and monitoring greenhouse gas reductions. The process is likely to include steps by industry to move, at the earliest feasible stage, to more efficient technologies and practices.

  (9) The National Greenhouse Response Strategy (NGRS) was endorsed by the Council of Australian Governments (CoAG) in December 1992. It contained a number of measures in relation to energy supply that will impact on the adoption of best practice. These include co-generation, reform of the electricity supply industry and improved linkages between costs and prices. Progress achieved under the NGRS was reported in the National Greenhouse Steering Committee's Summary Report on Implementation of the NGRS, presented to CoAG in December 1993.

  (10) The adoption of clean technologies by power producers is the responsibility of State and Territory Governments. However, under the NGRS, all Australian governments are committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

  (11) There are no statistics available on unused potential power production from co-generation.

  (12) Primary responsibility for decisions on responses to power generation externalities resides with State and Territory Governments. Victoria, in collaboration with the Commonwealth Department of Environment, Sport and Territories, engaged a consultant to report on externality policy. This important study was released in December 1993.

  The Prime Minister in his Statement on the Environment in December 1992 announced a National Externalities Study, which will assist in the identifications of costs and benefits not properly reflected in the price of energy. This is a joint project between the Australian and New Zealand Minerals and Energy Council (ANZMEC) and the Australian and New Zealand Conservation and Environment Council (ANZECC), and will build on the Victorian Study.

  (13) (a) See (12) above. (b) The Commonwealth is working cooperatively with the State Governments to reform the electricity supply industry. The Commonwealth is strongly committed to the decision of CoAG to implement a competitive electricity market by 1 July 1995. The structural reforms proposed will remove price distortions (such as cross subsidies), which impede the pursuit of greenhouse objectives. A competitive market structure will ensure that costs incurred by market factors are taken into account and allow a range of energy efficiency benefits to be realised, such as electricity conservation; promotion of growth in energy service providers; promotion of greater use of co-generation, renewables and remote area power systems; and provision for the greater use of gas as a fuel input.

  (14) There have been no estimates by my portfolio of potential "no-regrets" energy savings (but estimates have been calculated for reductions of emissions of carbon dioxide by energy end users, see question (15) below).

  (15) The effect of the first phase of the measures contained in the NGRS is currently being reassessed in the light of the latest data. In Appendix D of the NGRS, it was estimated that, by 2005, the effect would be in the range of about 10 million tonnes to 95 million tonnes below the previously estimated "business as usual" figure. In the projections cited above, ABARE used an estimate of the reduction, due to current NGRS measures, in carbon dioxide emissions of about 18 million tonnes by 2005. The NGRS identifies scope for further reductions of non-carbon dioxide greenhouse emissions and for enhancement of sinks of carbon dioxide. Commonwealth Departments are currently examining the scope for further "no-regrets" measures.