Australia’s first public sector carbon audit misses forestry

By Ju Yeon Jung

The Tasmanian Government has released the reports on its whole-of-government carbon emissions audit, the first of its kind in Australia. 

Premier David Bartlett launched the 900-page report by consultancy firm Parsons Brinckerhoff (PB) which reviewed energy consumption in 25 key government departments and ministers’ office, as well as emissions from car and air travel.

The report found the government departments emitted 110,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas in 2006-07, representing one per cent of the state’s total emissions.

The biggest contributor was transport at 37 per cent, with electricity and LPG usage following at 28 per cent and 18 per cent respectively.

Government business enterprises, including Aurora Energy and Hydro Tasmania, were responsible for 900,000 tonnes of CO2.
PB consultant Arek Sinanian said there was no comparative data on departmental emissions of other state governments.

“Tasmania is the first to take this approach – the database can reveal an emissions report by department, scope or building allowing the Government to tailor their strategies.”

The report recommended setting an emissions reduction target of 15 per cent over the next five years, and identified opportunities for achieving a further 25 per cent reduction in energy use in major government buildings.

The required level of investment is estimated at around $10 million, with potential cost-savings of $1 million each year in energy bills.

“Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is a saving for the environment, but it also has the potential to save money in the long term, and increasingly, due to expected increases in energy costs,” Mr Sinanian said.

Mr Bartlett said government departments would incorporate recommendations of the report into their emission reduction policy in the context of the 2009-10 state budget.

The Tasmanian Greens welcomed the first public sector carbon audit, but said the omission of Forestry Tasmania, a significant carbon emitter, was a “massive cop-out”.

“The decision to exempt Forestry Tasmania from this audit is a massive cop-out, and it is high time that the industry is held accountable for its contribution to climate change,” said Nick McKim, Greens leader and Shadow Climate Change spokesperson.

“The quickest and easiest way to reduce Tasmania’s emissions would be to protect our high conservation value old-growth forests from deforestation and degradation; the ball is now in David Bartlett’s court.”

The audit was commissioned by the former premier Paul Lennon in April.

The full reports can be found here

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