The Northern Territory is the world leader for per-capita emissions

by Rod Campbell



The Australian Government would like the other states to help offset the Northern Territory emissions. That’s a big ask given the NT is already the heaviest emitter of CO2 per capita in the world

Australia’s Northern Territory (NT) has a small population (250,100) but it emitted 15.8 million tonnes of greenhouse gas in 2021. While this is only 3% of Australia’s emissions, it equates to 63.3 tonnes per person, easily the highest in Australia.

In fact, if the NT was a country it would be the highest per capita polluter in the world, far higher than even petrostates like Qatar, Saudi Arabia or Brunei.

And while clearly the low population is a factor, the key issue is the two liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals that export gas from Darwin, mainly to Japan. The Inpex and Darwin LNG facilities emitted 7.98 million tonnes in 2021-22, half of the NT’s emissions.

Crucially these above emissions figures do not include the burning of the gas, which is accounted for in customer country emissions.

The NT’s emissions are relevant to Australia and the world not only because they contribute to climate change, but because the NT and Australian Governments are trying to develop more gas exports.

Tamboran Resources plans to frack the NT’s Beetaloo Basin to export LNG, a Phase 1 of 6.6 million tonnes per annum (Mtpa) of LNG, before full capacity operations of up to 20 Mtpa. This would increase NT emissions by between 6.9 Mtpa and 21 Mtpa, sending per capita emissions to a world-beating, Y-axis-stretching 123.1 tonnes per person, based on current population.

This is not idle talk. The Australian Government is already providing a $1.5 billion subsidy for gas export infrastructure that would help Tamboran. It has suggested to other states that they help offset the NT’s emissions.

This proposal has not been well received by the states that will have to tell their communities and industries to pollute less to help NT gas companies. Looking at the per capita emissions of the NT, it’s clear that this will be a very hard sell.

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