Is Australia Already at Net Zero?
“Australia exports 2.5 times more carbon in fossil fuels than it emits from burning them, the most recent analysis of the nation’s carbon stocks shows. The CSIRO study is the first full carbon budget yet completed for Australia and is part of a global project to better track carbon emissions.”
In 2013 the ABC reported that Australia had already reached net zero two and a half times over.
Since then Australia has reduced its CO2 emissions from over 600 million tonnes to less than 500 million tonnes. So we are closer to absorbing four times more CO2 than we emit.
It’s worth noting that the CO2 absorbed by phytoplankton in our oceans aren’t even counted.
Yet when one clicks on the link to the CSIRO report in the ABC article it is no longer there. See link below.
I asked the CSIRO in estimates why the link was removed. They aren’t trying to hide how much CO2 is taken up by Australia’s natural environment are they?
Surely if Australia is already at net zero multiple times over there is no need to build renewables which are expensive and bad for the environment right?
Audit tallies Australia’s carbon budget
Australia exports 2.5 times more carbon in fossil fuels than it emits from burning them, the most recent analysis of the nation’s carbon stocks shows.
The CSIRO study is the first full carbon budget yet completed for Australia and is part of a global project to better track carbon emissions.
Lead author Dr Vanessa Haverd, of CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research, will present the findings today at the Terrestrial Ecosystem Research Network symposium in Canberra.
Haverd says the knowledge is critical to governments and policymakers in informing action on reducing greenhouse emissions.
In undertaking the carbon audit, funded through the Australian Climate Change Science Program, the researchers were able to calculate the contributions of anthropogenic and biosphere carbon to total carbon levels.
“We tried to quantify all the major contributors to carbon,” says Haverd, including phenomena such as release and uptake by plants, drought, fire, erosion and deforestation and exports.
The study, published in Biogeosciences and which focuses on the two decades between 1990 and 2011, reveals the rapid growth in fossil fuel exports from Australia.
Between 1990 and 2010 the country exported 1.5 times as much fossil-fuel carbon as it consumed. However, between 2009-2010 this ratio had grown to 2.5 times.
Where do Australia’s carbon emissions go?
The work shows the Australian landscape has soaked up one-third of the carbon emitted by fossil fuels in Australia over the past 20 years. On average about 2.2 billion tonnes of carbon is taken up by plants each year.
Across Australia, grassy vegetation (dominant in dry and savanna regions) accounts for 56 per cent of carbon uptake while woody vegetation accounts for 44 per cent.
But critically the study finds the amount of carbon plants ‘breathe in’ during periods of high growth in wet years is countered by the carbon released during periods of drought.
“For Australia as a whole, increased carbon dioxide has caused a 15 per cent increase in plant production over the past two decades, relative to pre-industrial times,” she says.
The analysis shows that during these high-growth periods the Australian biosphere ‘breathes in’ more than the total human-induced greenhouse gas emissions.
However, she says in dry years, the biosphere ‘breathes out’ a nearly equal amount of carbon to the atmosphere.
Haverd says the data helps in understanding how carbon stored in the Australian landscape responds to the swings between drought and flood.
“It is important to know that carbon stored in the land during periods of high plant growth may disappear again during the next drought,” Haverd says.
The work also shows fire contributes about 1.3 times as much carbon to the atmosphere as fossil fuel emissions. But Harverd says the net impact, which takes into account the carbon the plants would have respired and the regrowth that then takes up carbon, is about one-quarter of fossil fuel emissions.