Australia's LNG boom is reducing our global carbon impact

Opinion piece

12 June 2019

As the reappointed Energy Minister, and now Minister responsible for Emissions Reduction, I am focussed on tangible solutions for our energy sector. And tangible solutions are just as important for meeting our international emissions commitments as they are for bringing down energy prices and keeping the lights on.  

The Morrison Government took its Energy policy and the Climate Solutions Package to the ‘climate change’ election, and the Australian people made a clear choice.   

There are many who have called for ‘bipartisanship’ on energy policy in recent times. In practical terms, these people are often just arguing for a high emissions reduction target. Well, the election result could not have been clearer. The Australian people have voted for a sensible and achievable approach to emissions reduction, one that keeps power prices down, keeps the lights on, and keeps our economy strong. 

It is time for bipartisanship. 

I intend to work closely with my state and territory counterparts to meet our commitments – and I have already had a number of very positive conversations with some of my state colleagues since the election. There are great benefits for those states and territories that choose to work with us. However, ultimately, making and implementing international agreements is a Commonwealth responsibility. 

We have outlined an integrated energy and emissions policy that has clear purpose, and now, a clear mandate. And we want to work with the business community on delivering on this policy. We know industry wants to see an end to the debate across parties and jurisdictions about targets. Now is the time for Labor, both federal and state, to accept our targets and the detailed pathway we have outlined to get there. 

Our Climate Solutions Package outlines, to the last tonne, how we are going to deliver on our emissions reduction commitment.

This is a responsible plan that will focus on practical solutions through our $2b climate solutions fund; encouraging technology improvements; implementing energy efficiency and performance measures; and, taking advantage of Australia’s over performance on Kyoto. 

We will continue to focus on new technologies that will lower the cost of reducing emissions, so that we can meet our climate commitments without sending industries and jobs offshore. 

Our National Hydrogen Strategy will show us the way to create a vital economic boost through creating new jobs and a new export industry with an estimated value of $10 billion and will also assist Australian businesses in transitioning their energy use to more sustainable and affordable energy sources. 

We will also play an important role in helping other countries to reduce their emissions.  

The production of LNG is an emissions intensive activity through extraction and liquefication, and the impact of these emissions can be seen in the latest quarterly reporting figures. 

But Australia’s LNG exports have the potential to significantly lower emissions in importing countries by around 148 Mt CO2-e, because electricity generation from coal has around double the emissions of gas. The success of our LNG exports means that we can help lower global emissions below what they would otherwise have been by up to 27% of Australia’s annual emissions. 

This is a substantial global contribution to be proud of. 

In fact, if you remove our growing LNG exports from Australia’s emissions, the results are telling. 

While our LNG exports have surged over recent years, our national emissions have followed. But if you remove the contribution of LNG, the emissions across the rest of our economy are steadily trending down. This data tells two stories.

First, our domestic economy is decarbonising, particularly when you recognise the strength of our economy and population growth. Second, the primary cause of our recent carbon accounting increase – our LNG exports – is potentially responsible for a far greater decrease in emissions overseas. 

Critics – and there are a few of them – are all too eager to trumpet the latest quarterly emissions data as proof that Australia’s emissions reductions efforts are not sufficient to meet our Paris targets. They attack the Government’s policy of using Australia’s Kyoto over performance to achieve our Paris targets, saying that we should be focussed on making a ‘meaningful contribution to reducing global emissions’. 

If those critics are truly sincere about that, then they should celebrate the fact that Australia’s LNG exports are making a very significant impact to reducing global emissions. Australia is going to meet its international commitments to reduce our emissions by 26-28 percent by 2030, while our LNG export industry also makes a significant impact to reduce emissions overseas. 

We should be proud of our ability as a nation to maintain a resilient economy, to protect our natural environment, and to contribute more than our fair share within the international community, all while we keep downwards pressure on prices and keep the lights on for households and industry.

Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction