Despite a significant increase in solar and wind energy usage, Australia continues to have the highest levels of greenhouse gas emissions per capita among the G20 nations due to the burning of coal.
According to the energy think tank Ember, despite the fact that Australia and South Korea have reduced their per capita emissions from coal-fired electricity since 2015 (by 26% and 10% respectively), respectively, these two countries continue to produce more CO2 than other large economies.
China, which is the world’s largest annual emitter in absolute terms, is now ranked third after seeing a 30% increase in its per capita emissions from coal power over a period of seven years. This is because China’s rise in energy demand has outpaced its development in generation that does not produce any emissions. Since 2015, it has installed a capacity of 670 gigawatts for renewable energy, which is roughly equivalent to a third of the world’s solar and wind power.
According to the Ember analysis, which was made public just before a conference of G20 leaders was scheduled to begin on Saturday in India, Australia used twice as much electricity as China did on a per capita basis, and 48% of that electricity came from coal plants.
As a result of an increase in solar and wind energy, the percentage dropped from 64% in 2015. However, Australia’s emissions from coal last year were more than four times the global average for emissions per capita.
China and India, both developing countries that are home to around one third of the world’s population, are often accused of being the world’s biggest coal pollutants. However, the analysis indicated that Australia and South Korea were worse if population was added into the equation. Dave Jones, the global insights lead at Ember, said this. China and India are typically accused of being the world’s greatest coal polluters.
“As mature economies, they should be scaling up renewable electricity ambitiously and confidently enough to enable coal to be phased out by 2030,” Jones stated.
According to the research, the fact that Australia exports a significant portion of its massive coal reserves makes the nation “an enabler for other countries to become polluters.” The nation is the second largest exporter of coal in the world, behind only Indonesia.
The primary electricity grid of Australia, which serves the five states along the east coast, derives approximately 35 percent of its power from sources of renewable energy. The Albanian government has set a goal of attaining 82% by the year 2030; however, experts argue that this goal is unlikely to be met given the present rate of investment in clean energy and transmission infrastructure.
The government has made many pronouncements regarding electricity in an effort to address this issue. These include reiterating its commitment to major electricity storage and transmission projects despite significant increases in projected costs and funding the development of new renewable energy sources that are “firmed” with storage.
The burning of coal was responsible for the generation of around 36% of the world’s electricity in 2017. It resulted in 8.4 billion tonnes of CO2 being created.
According to the findings of the Ember report, the global capacity for renewable energy would need to triple by the year 2030 to maintain possibility of limiting the global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, which is a primary objective of international accords regarding the climate problem.
It was stated that this was possible, but it would require strong policies, safe supply chains, an effective integration of solar and wind into energy grids, and an increase in deployment in especially in emerging economies. According to the findings of the research group, this will “in turn help drive and accelerate the phase down of coal as well as other fossil fuels.”
The G20 is accountable for around 80 percent of the world’s total emissions. At a preliminary conference in July, G20 energy ministers were unable to agree on reducing the use of fossil fuels and tripling the capacity of renewable energy sources within this decade. This was due to opposition from some of the producing nations. It has been reported that Saudi Arabia, Russia, China, South Africa, and Indonesia are all opposed to expanding the use of clean energy to that magnitude by the year 2030.
Ember reported that twelve of the twenty most important economies had shown a decrease in emissions on a per capita basis since 2015. The United Kingdom experienced the greatest percentage drop, which was 93%.
However, on a per capita basis, emissions from coal plants rose by 9% over the entirety of the G20. The average amount of CO2 emissions per person in the G20 nations is 1.6 tons per year. The average across the world is 1.1 tonnes.
At least seventy-five countries, including Australia, have declared their intention to either completely phase out the use of coal or refrain from constructing any new coal plants that do not include disputed carbon capture technology. However, the United States, Brazil, China, India, Japan, South Korea, and South Africa are the only G20 nations that have not disclosed their plans to reduce their use on coal.