Has Australia’s emissions intensity fallen by 50% in the last two decades? > Check the facts

Who: “Australia’s emissions intensity has reduced by about 50 per cent over the last two decades” Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott.

The claim: That Australia’s emissions intensity has fallen by 50 per cent in two decades.

The facts: According to the latest ABS figures Australia’s emissions intensity has fallen by 28 per cent between 1989-90 and 2008-09. During that same period Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions have increased by 33 per cent and Australia’s GDP has increased by 83 per cent.

The finding: Australia’s emissions intensity is falling but Mr Abbott is claiming almost twice the decrease that has actually occurred.

Discussion of evidence: Emissions intensity is defined as emissions per dollar of GDP. This has been falling in Australia mainly because higher fuel costs have led to a drive to be more energy efficient as well as a move away from emissions intensive sectors like manufacturing and towards less emissions intensive sectors like services.

The ABS says that the trend of falling emissions intensity “has been attributed to a range of factors including better management of emissions across sectors, and stronger growth in the services sector than in the more energy intensive manufacturing sector.”

The fall in emissions intensity has not been 50 per cent but rather it has fallen 28 per cent between 1998-90 and 2008-09.

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