SYDNEY - New figures show that Australia's greenhouse emissions have again increased. They bring into question the Prime Minister's assertion that Australia would comfortably meet its Paris Agreement obligations "in a canter." Critics say the latest pollution statistics raise new questions about existing climate policies.
In the final quarter of 2018, Australia's greenhouse gas emissions rose by 0.8 per cent. It is an upward trend that began in 2013. There were increases in the transport sector, and mining, although a longstanding drought saw emissions fall in agriculture.
The United Nations has estimated Australia's net emissions last year amounted to 537 million tonnes of carbon dioxide, an increase from the previous year.
In 2017, the Paris Agreement unified every nation in a single accord to tackle climate change for the first time in history.
Experts believe that the recent statistics show that Australia will not meet its obligations under the environmental treaty.
Bill Hare is a climate scientist and director, with Climate Analytics, an independent research institute.
"There are virtually no policies in place and all the projections show that Australia will not be able to meet its rather weak Paris Agreement commitments,' he said. 'The government has, basically, no actions planned. Without a significant change of direction it seems most likely that, you know, our emissions will continue to increase and we will miss the Paris Agreement goals by a country mile."
The government, however, believes the latest climate figures are quite promising. Officials say much of the increases are around the trade in natural gas, which is liquefied in Australia. While this increases its carbon emissions, authorities stress that because the gas is then used in other countries to replace coal, it has the effect of cutting global emissions.
Australia has some of the world's highest per capital greenhouse gas emissions.