AUSTRALIA’S biggest chemical industry, Australia’s biggest chemical companies are in for a big boost as the country embarks on a “clean energy revolution” that will result in huge reductions in emissions.
The announcement comes as the Australian Chemicals Council (ACCC) releases its annual report for the year to December 31, which reveals Australia’s coal-fired power plants are the world’s biggest greenhouse gas emitters.
The report is a landmark document for the industry, with its release due to coincide with the opening of the world-first clean energy Expo 2020 in Melbourne on March 23.
“It is very significant that we have now surpassed China to become the world leader in clean energy,” said ACCC chairman Peter Dickson.
“The world is moving away from fossil fuels.
This is a very good sign.”
The new figures, released in conjunction with the first-ever Climate Change Authority climate conference in Melbourne, show that Australia’s emissions from the coal industry are now equivalent to the equivalent of burning every car on the road for every year of the 21st century.
“There’s been a big change in how we think about emissions, we’re not only burning coal, but we’re also burning oil and gas,” said Dickson, speaking to The Australian after presenting the report.
“And so I think the next thing that people need to understand is that there are big changes coming and the climate will be changing and we will all be affected by it.”
The announcement is significant for Australia’s largest chemical companies, which are currently in negotiations with the federal government to increase emissions to 2020 levels from 2025 levels.
These include Australian Chemical Corporation (ACCL), which is the world No.1 producer of industrial chemicals, with an emissions intensity of over 6 per cent per year, and Syngenta, which has a 5.9 per cent annual emissions intensity.
But it’s the Australian Coal Industry (ACC) that is likely to benefit most from the announcement.
The ACC has pledged to cut its emissions by almost 20 per cent by 2030.
“We’ve committed to a target of 30 per cent below the 2020 level by 2030,” ACC chief executive officer John Smith said.
“That’s going to have a big impact on our competitiveness and our ability to compete in the world market.”
It will also have an impact on the Australian economy, as the ACC’s carbon intensity would drop by 40 per cent compared to 2020, which would reduce annual employment and GDP by more than $1.5 billion.
“These numbers are going to be an absolute hit to the Australian taxpayer, it’s going for billions,” ACC chairman Peter Rynearson said.
The company also plans to reduce its coal use by nearly half, to just under 10 per cent of total energy consumption by 2030, which could lead to a $1 billion annual reduction in its emissions.
“In terms of the ACC, we are also looking at other changes to our business model, including the possibility of taking more of the carbon out of the air, reducing our carbon footprint and the need for us to operate on less fossil fuels,” ACC executive director Tony Ritchie said.
Australia has committed to the Kyoto Protocol, which aims to limit the increase in greenhouse gases over the next 15 years.
The Australian government has already announced it will be cutting emissions by a further $1 trillion by 2020, with the aim of cutting emissions to 1.5 per cent lower than they are today by 2030 and 2 per cent less than they were in 2005.
“If we are going down that path, the impact on Australia’s economy is significant and it will also be very hard for our businesses to compete with those in the developing world,” ACC president Peter Riddell said.