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Tasmania's greenhouse gas emissions

This page is available to download as a Fact Sheet: Tasmania's greenhouse gas emissions (PDF) or you can download the detailed report Tasmania's Greenhouse Gas Accounts - State Greenhouse Gas Inventory 2013-14 (PDF).

What are greenhouse gases?

Greenhouse gases trap heat in the atmosphere and make the Earth warmer. Those with the most significant impact on global warming are water vapour, carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide. Other common greenhouse gases include ozone and chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs).

What are carbon sinks?

A carbon or emissions sink is a carbon storage reservoir, like a forest, which removes more carbon than it emits.

Measuring emissions

Greenhouse gas emissions are measured in carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2-e). Because each greenhouse gas, such as methane or nitrous oxide, varies in terms of its contribution to climate change, these are combined into a single, consistent value of carbon dioxide equivalent or CO2-e.

Global warming potentials are used as a relative measure of how much heat a greenhouse gas traps in the atmosphere. They compare the amount of heat trapped by a certain mass of the gas in question to the amount of heat trapped by a similar mass of carbon dioxide.

Greenhouse gas accounts

Tasmania’s latest greenhouse gas accounts for 2013-14 were released on 6 May 2016 as part of the Australian Government’s State and Territory Greenhouse Gas Inventories 2014. The Australian Department of the Environment and Energy has prepared the National Inventory Report 2014 (revised) to meet Australia’s annual reporting commitments under Article 12 of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and Article 7 of the Kyoto Protocol.

The National Inventory Report details Australia's total annual greenhouse gas emissions across various sectors and the methodologies for their determination. They are made up of a number of reports, including the Australian Government’s National Inventory Report 2014 and Revised Kyoto Protocol National Inventory Report 2013 Volumes 1, 2 and 3, as well as the State and Territory Greenhouse Gas Inventories.

On 9 August 2016 the Australian Department of the Environment and Energy submitted the National Inventory Report 2014 (revised) to the UNFCCC with updated figures for the land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF) sector.

Under the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, the national inventory must report net greenhouse gas emissions from the energy, industrial processes and product use, agriculture, and waste sectors. The inventory must also include emissions from the mandatory LULUCF activities of afforestation/reforestation, deforestation and forest management. The national inventory also includes the voluntary LULUCF activities of cropland management and grazing land management. This is the second year of reporting emissions from the LULUCF sector in both the national and Tasmanian greenhouse gas inventory.

More information is available from the Australian Government's environment website.

Meeting our emissions reduction target

Under the Climate Change (State Action) Act 2008, Tasmania has a legislated target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 60 per cent below 1990 levels by 2050.

In 1989-90 Tasmania’s baseline greenhouse gas emissions were 18.2 mega-tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (Mt CO2-e), and in 2013-14 the State’s total greenhouse gas emissions were 2.3 Mt CO2-e. This is a decrease in emissions of 87 per cent since 1990, and means that the State has achieved its legislated emissions reduction target (see graph below) for the second year in a row.

The majority of Tasmania’s greenhouse gas emissions reduction can be attributed to a decline in the State’s forestry industry and the resulting decrease in emissions from activities in the LULUCF sector. Other factors such as improvements in vehicle fuel efficiency and stationary energy efficiency, as well as decreased economic activity after the Global Financial Crisis have also had an effect on Tasmania’s emissions.

Comparison of 1989-90 baseline and 2013-14 greenhouse gas emissions for Tasmania with the legislated emissionsr eduction target

Comparison of 1989-90 baseline and 2013-14 greenhouse gas emissions for Tasmania with the legislated emissiosn reduction target (red line)

Calculating our emissions

Last year a number of changes were made to the international rules that guide how greenhouse gas emissions are determined, including changes to the global warming potentials of some gases. In addition, the calculation methodologies and the technologies used to estimate coverage are reviewed and in some cases revised for each national inventory.

As a result of these changes, the emissions estimates were recalculated for all sectors from the baseline year of 1989-90 through to 2013-14, which means the latest accounts cannot be compared to those released in previous years.

The 2014 inventory includes forest management in the LULUCF sector for the second year. Forest management includes emissions and removals from harvesting and timber growth in Tasmania’s multiple-use public forests, private native forests and from plantations established prior to 1990, as well as from harvested wood products.

Emissions from the LULUCF sector have had a major influence on Tasmania’s total annual emissions, as shown in the graph below. The majority of Tasmania’s emissions reductions can be attributed to the forest management sub-sector, which have decreased from a peak of 10.8 Mt CO2-e in 2002-03, to become a carbon sink of -6.3 Mt CO2-e in 2013-14.

Tasmania's greenhouse gas emissions from 1989-90 to 2013-14, by sector

Tasmania's greenhouse gas emissions by sector from 1989-90 to 2013-14.

Where do Tasmania's emissions come from?

Energy

The energy sector includes the combustion of fuels from energy generation, manufacturing and construction industries, and transport. In 2013-14, the energy sector produced 3.8 Mt CO2-e and was Tasmania’s largest emitter. Greenhouse gas emissions from this sector have increased by 1.3 per cent since 1989-90.

Transport is the energy sector’s largest sub-sector emitter at 1.7 Mt CO2-e, however transport emissions have fallen in recent years mainly due to improvements in vehicle fuel efficiency. Unlike other states and territories, Tasmania’s high proportion of renewable energy means the energy industries sub-sector makes a relatively small contribution to emissions in this sector.

Industrial processes and product use

This sector includes emissions from mineral and metal processing, paper and pulp production, and food and beverage industries, as well as the use of synthetic greenhouse gases in refrigeration, air-conditioning, and electricity distribution.

In 2013-14 greenhouse gas emissions from the industrial processes and product use sector were 1.7 Mt CO2-e, which is an increase of almost eight per cent from 1989-90.

Agriculture

In 2013-14 greenhouse gas emissions from the agriculture sector were 2.3 Mt CO2-e, which is a two per cent decrease since 1989-90. The majority of the sector’s emissions come from the digestive processes of ruminant animals such as cows, sheep and goats.

Land use, land use change and forestry

The land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF) sector includes greenhouse gas emissions and removals from:

  • harvesting and timber growth in Tasmania’s multiple-use public forests and plantations;
  • the cultivation of crops, pasture and grazing land management; and
  • prescribed burning and wildfires in native forests.

The LULUCF sector has changed from a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions in 1989-90 to a carbon sink in 2013-14. In 1989-90 the sector was responsible for emissions of 10.1 Mt CO2-e and in 2013-14 it was a carbon sink of -5.8 Mt CO2-e. This reduction in emissions has been mainly due to a decline in forestry logging activity in recent years.

Waste

The waste sector is only a minor contributor to Tasmania’s total greenhouse gas emissions. In 2013-14 emissions were 0.3 Mt CO2-e, which is a reduction of 28 per cent since 1989-90.

Tasmania's greenhouse gas emissions by sector

Sustainable Living Tasmania has produced an interactive chart of Tasmania's greenhouse gas emissions.The chart allows you to drill down from the State's total emissions into sub-sectors and even finer detail, as well as showing historical bar graphs.

Reporting requirements

According to the Climate Change (Greenhouse Gas Emissions) Regulations 2012, the Tasmanian Minister responsible for climate change is required to publish the State’s baseline greenhouse gas emissions, and the emissions reduction for 2013-14, in the Tasmanian Government Gazette within 60 days of the Australian Government publishing the State and Territory Greenhouse Gas Inventories 2014.

A report based on the state greenhouse gas inventory released by the Australian Department of the Environment and Energy on 6 May 2016 provides a more detailed analysis of Tasmania’s emissions and is available in the Tasmanian Greenhouse Gas Accounts Report 2013-14 (PDF).

Learn more about Tasmania's emissions, carbon storage, and clean energy on our Resources page.