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Climate change in Tasmania

Tasmania’s emissions

Under the Act, Tasmania has a legislated greenhouse gas emissions reduction target of at least 60 per cent below 1990 levels by 2050.

Tasmania’s 1990 baseline greenhouse gas emissions were 19.4 megatonnes (Mt) of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2-e). The State’s total greenhouse gas emissions for 2015 were 0.9 Mt CO2-e, which is a 95 per cent reduction from the baseline.8

For the third year in a row, Tasmania has achieved its legislated emissions reduction target. The Tasmanian Government plans to build on this and will legislate for a new target of zero net emissions by 2050, as outlined in action 6.1.

Tasmania’s total greenhouse gas emissions from the baseline year 1990 to the latest national inventory year of 2015 are shown in Figure 2. Also highlighted are the contributions of the various industry sectors.

Figure 2 shows the impact the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from the land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF) sector has had on Tasmania’s total emissions. The emissions from the LULUCF sector changed from a major source of emissions of 11.4 Mt CO2-e in 1990 to a carbon sink of -7.0 Mt CO2-e in 2015. The reduction in Tasmania’s LULUCF emissions has been influenced by a number of factors including the volume of harvested timber, incidence of bushfires, local manufacture and export of wood products, fluctuations in global markets, and changes in accounting methodologies.

In 2015 the greenhouse gas emissions from Tasmania’s energy sector were the State’s largest at 3.7 Mt CO2-e, however this is relatively modest compared with other Australian states due to our renewable energy resources. Emissions from our energy sector decreased by one per cent between 1990 and 2015.

Tasmania’s agriculture sector contributed 2.1 Mt CO2-e to our greenhouse gas emissions in 2015, which was mainly due to the digestive processes of cows and sheep. Emissions from Tasmania’s agriculture sector decreased by almost nine per cent between 1990 and 2015.

The industrial processes and waste sectors were relatively minor contributors to Tasmania’s total greenhouse gas emissions at 1.8 Mt CO2-e and 0.3 Mt CO2-e respectively. Emissions from the industrial processes sector rose almost 16 per cent between 1990 and 2015, while emissions from the waste sector fell by over 36 per cent in the same period.

Excluding the greenhouse gas emissions from the LULUCF sector, the annual emissions from the rest of the Tasmanian economy have reduced by two per cent between 1990 and 2015. This is a significant achievement given that Tasmania’s gross state product (excluding the forestry industry) has increased by 58 per cent9 and our population has increased by over 11 per cent10 in the same period. These figures demonstrate that Tasmania has decoupled the historic link between economic growth and greenhouse gas emissions.

In 2015, Tasmania had the lowest annual average greenhouse gas emissions per capita of any Australian state or territory at 1.7 tonnes CO2-e per person. This was due to a combination of  Tasmania’s high level of renewable hydro-generated electricity and a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from the LULUCF sector.

FIGURE 2

Tasmania's greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 to 2015, by sector

Tasmania’s greenhouse gas emission in mega-tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent, by sector between 1990 and 2015

Sector

1990

1991

1992

1993

1994

1995

1996

1997

1998

1999

2000

2001

2002

Energy

3.7

3.9

3.2

3.3

3.3

3.4

3.4

3.5

3.4

3.5

3.4

3.4

3.5

Industrial Processes and Product Use

1.6

1.5

1.5

1.4

1.3

1.3

1.2

1.2

1.3

1.3

1.4

1.4

1.4

Agriculture

2.3

2.2

2.2

2.2

2.2

2.2

2.3

2.3

2.3

2.3

2.1

2.1

2.1

Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry

11.3

13.5

10.3

10.0

8.3

10.2

8.7

7.1

8.7

8.5

12.0

11.4

10.0

Waste

0.5

0.5

0.5

0.5

0.5

0.5

0.5

0.5

0.5

0.5

0.5

0.5

0.5

Total

19.4

21.6

17.6

17.3

15.6

17.5

16.2

14.5

16.2

16.1

19.3

18.9

17.5

Sector

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

Energy

3.5

3.7

3.9

4.1

4.1

4.5

4.2

4.3

4.4

4.0

4.2

3.9

3.7

Industrial Processes and Product Use

1.5

1.5

1.5

1.5

1.4

1.5

1.5

1.5

1.5

1.5

1.6

1.7

1.8

Agriculture

2.2

2.2

2.2

2.2

2.1

2.0

2.0

1.9

2.1

2.2

2.2

2.3

2.1

Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry

14.1

12.4

12.7

8.2

8.8

10.0

8.2

3.9

3.5

-4.5

-6.2

-6.1

-7.0

Waste

0.5

0.5

0.4

0.4

0.4

0.4

0.3

0.4

0.4

0.3

0.3

0.3

0.3

Total

21.7

20.2

20.8

16.4

16.8

18.4

16.2

12.0

11.9

3.5

2.1

2.1

0.9


The impacts of a changing climate

There is now overwhelming evidence that the earth is warming and that our climate is changing.11 Rising temperatures as a result of climate change will have a significant impact upon other climate variables such as rainfall, evaporation and sea level.12 These changes are likely to amplify natural climate variability more broadly and result in more frequent and severe extreme weather events.13

ACE CRC’s Climate Futures for Tasmania project is the most important source of downscaled projections for Tasmania. Through the Climate Futures for Tasmania project and other research undertaken by organisations such as CSIRO and IMAS, we have a much better understanding of how the Tasmanian climate is likely to change between now and 2100.

Tasmania’s terrestrial environments are projected to experience a rise in annual average temperatures, significant changes in seasonal and regional rainfall patterns, an increase in rainfall intensity and associated flooding, and longer, more intense fire seasons.

Coastal and marine environments will be impacted by rising sea levels, an increase in storm instances and associated inundation and erosion, increasing water temperatures, ocean acidification and changing nutrient levels.

Figure 3 provides a summary of the projected impacts for Tasmania in a changing climate.

Download hi-resolution version

8 Australian Department of the Environment, 2017, State and Territory Greenhouse Gas Inventories 2015.

9 Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2016, Australian National Accounts: State Accounts, ABS Cat. No. 5220.0.

10 Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2016, Australian Demographic Statistics, ABS Cat. No. 3101.0.

11 IPCC, 2013. Summary for Policymakers. In: Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group 1 to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [T.F. Stocker, D. Qin, G.K. Plattner, M. Tignor, S.K. Allen, J. Boschung, A. Nauels, Y. Xia, V. Bex and P.M. Midgley (eds.). Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA. 

12 Grose MR, Barnes-Keoghan I, Corney SP, White CJ, Holz GK, Bennett JB, Gaynor SM and Bindoff NL 2020, Climate Futures for Tasmania: General Climate Impacts Technical Report, Antarctic Climate & Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre, Hobart, Tasmania.

13 White CJ, Grose MR, Corney SP, Bennett JC, Holz GK, Sanabria LA, McInnes KL, Cechet RP, Gaynor SM & Bindoff NL 2010, Climate Futures for Tasmania: Extreme Events Technical Report, Antarctic Climate & Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre, Hobart, Tasmania.

14 ACE CRC 2010, Climate Futures for Tasmania general climate impacts: the summary, Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre, Hobart Tasmania.

15 Grose, M. et al., 2015, Southern Slopes Cluster Report, Climate Change in Australia Projections for Australia’s Natural Resource Management Regions: Cluster Reports, eds. Ekström, M. et al., CSIRO and Bureau of Meteorology, Australia.