Dramatic Fall in Petroleum Emissions: National Energy Emissions Audit

New research shows that Australia’s pandemic response has reduced transport emissions by over 3,000,000 tonnes (3 Mt CO2-e), due to an unprecedented drop in the consumption of petroleum fuels during April—falling by 77% for domestic aviation, and a combined 36% drop for petrol, LPG and retail diesel.

The Australia Institute Climate & Energy Program has released their latest National Energy Emissions Audit, analysing the electricity sector over the previous month.

Key Points:

  • A large drop in the consumption of petroleum fuels during April reduced emission by about 3 Mt CO2-e of annual transport emissions (equalling 0.6% of total national emissions for the year, or 7% of Australia’s total national emissions for the month).
  • Sales of petrol, auto LPG and retail diesel, which are used almost entirely for road transport by passenger and light commercial vehicles, fell by a combined 36% in April, compared with March.
  • Sales of domestic aviation fuels fell by 75% in April, compared with March.

“Australia’s pandemic response has significantly lowered transport emissions, with monthly fuel sales falling by 35% from March to April for passenger motor vehicles, and by 77% in domestic aviation,” said Dr Hugh Saddler, author of The Australia Institute’s National Energy Emissions Audit.

“In total, the drop in sales volumes means a reduction of about 5% in annual domestic transport emissions and this number will keep growing, as the economy remains depressed and travel restrictions remain.

“This demonstrates it is possible to quickly and effectively reduce domestic emissions in the transport sector but it is obvious that as pandemic restrictions ease policies incentives, to increase electric vehicle uptake or investment in public transport, will be needed for Australia to keep these emissions down.

“Now is the ideal time to drive change in our transport sector by electrifying our cars and buses, so it’s disappointing the Federal Government has delayed its Electric Vehicle Strategy, due mid this year,” said Richie Merzian, Climate & Energy Program Director at The Australia Institute.

“Australia is car-taker not maker, and most car manufacturers are moving to electric vehicles. The Federal Government could be investing in necessary infrastructure now to smooth the inevitable transition away from fossil fuelled transport, while building the know-how and jobs Australia needs into the future.”

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