Choice Cuts – The advantages of cutting emissions in the electricity sector

Research released today by The Australia Institute highlights the difficulties that the National Energy Guarantee (NEG) presents to agriculture, manufacturing and other sectors of the economy.

[Full report see PDF below]

The NEG looks to reduce emissions in the electricity generation sector by 26% by 2030, in line with our Paris target of 26 to 28% reductions.

This means sectors like agriculture and manufacturing will also make similar reductions.

“The problem is that while the electricity sector can turn to low-emission renewable energy relatively easily, agriculture and manufacturing do not have these options,” economist at The Australia Institute’s Climate & Energy Program, Matt Grudnoff said.

“The more electricity generation reduces emissions the less other sectors in the economy will have to do.

“71% of agricultural emissions are ‘enteric fermentation’, or animal belching and farting.

“While research into reducing animal emissions is underway, farmers do not have access to low-flatulence cows in the way that electricity generators have access to low-emissions renewable energy.

“26% emission reduction in agriculture effectively means a lot fewer sheep and cows in Australia.

“Similarly, 31% of non-electricity energy emissions are from manufacturing and construction. Factories, smelters and building sites cannot just swap to zero-emissions technology like the electricity sector can.

“Australia has a choice – do we cut emissions the cheap and easy way, by switching to renewable electricity generation, or the hard way by reducing agricultural and industrial production.

“The low NEG target suggests that we want to do it the hard way,” Grudnoff said.

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