While the coronavirus pandemic has reduced energy consumption in sectors such as transport and aviation, new research shows that in Victoria gas use during April was higher than in any of the preceding ten years, resulting in about 200 thousand tonnes more emissions.
The Australia Institute Climate & Energy Program has released their latest National Energy Emissions Audit, analysing the electricity sector over the previous month.
The report follows news of the Coalition Government’s push for a “gas-led recovery” from the COVID19 pandemic and widespread concern that the government’s National COVID-19 Co-ordination Committee is being used to promote the gas industry in Australia.
- In Victoria, gas emissions in April were higher than in any of the preceding ten years, resulting 200 thousand tonnes more emissions (0.2 Mt CO2-e).
- International aviation fuel use in Australia down 33% for March 2020, compared with March 2019 and domestic aviation fuel use for March 2020 is down 20% from the same time last year.
- Diesel consumption appears to have increased sharply during March 2020, in part due to panic stockpiling.
- April 2020 was the twenty-eighth successive month in which the renewable generation share of annual generation was larger than in the previous month.
“In Victoria, over 80% of households are connected to gas supply and most use it for space heating, the state’s high gas consumption would suggest working and schooling from home has meant that many more households are using their gas heaters throughout the day,” said Dr Hugh Saddler, author of The Australia Institute’s National Energy Emissions Audit.
“While the sudden grounding of the aviation industry has led to an enormous reduction in aviation emissions, the pandemic has not led to similar reductions in non-transport energy use. Instead it has tended only to shift the source of our emissions—rather than using electricity for heating or computers in the workplace, people are running them from their homes. In Victoria, in particular, that means using lots more gas.”
“Gas is emissions intensive, expensive, one of the worst sectors to invest in for job creation and largely owned by foreign companies that pay little tax in Australia. Meanwhile, our research shows renewables going from strength to strength,” said Richie Merzian, Climate & Energy Program Director at The Australia Institute.
“With the Victorian Parliament considering whether to lift the state’s ban on gas drilling next week, it is clear doing so will put the state’s climate ambitions further into jeopardy and be a major step backwards.
“Pursuing a so-called ‘gas-led recovery’ will not only make electricity prices higher but will make climate change worse, particularly once emissions from other sectors begin to come back into play.”