Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Steep rise in power station 40 40 gas emissions

Sydney Morning Herald
Monday 14/4/2008 Page: 3

THE state's greenhouse gas emissions from power stations have leapt sharply in the past three months, putting the lemma Government under further pressure to improve its environmental performance. The rising emission figures come as a report found the majority of Australians want to cut greenhouse gas emissions by using renewable energy, cutting their use of electricity through energy efficiency and spending more on public transport. NSW power stations and vehicles pumped out more than 24 million tonnes of greenhouse gas in the first quarter of this year, 8 per cent higher than during the same period last year, says a report produced by the Climate Group.

Coal-fired power stations, which the Government is moving to privatise, are the biggest greenhouse polluters in the energy sector, accounting for 61 per cent of emissions from energy generation.. "It's pretty clear that we can't have any more coal-fired power stations, and in fact we need to be closing down the ones we have," said Rupert Posner, the Australian director of the Climate Group. "The message from these figures is that emissions are still going up, when they really need to be going down." The emissions rise was partly due to a warm summer in the Snowy Mountains leading to less melting snow and less hydro power, Mr Posner said. NSW also generated more power locally because less was available from Victoria.

Vehicle emissions stayed roughly the same as in the first quarter of last year, at about 9.5 million tonnes, despite increases in petrol prices. The Climate Institute Australia will today release a poll showing 74 per cent believe that any new electricity generation should come from clean energy and want Australia to become a world leader in renewable energy. Eighty-nine per cent want the Government to subsidise solar panels for 1 million homes to help generate solar power, the Climate of the Nation report says.

The figures will provide a boost to the Clean Energy Conference, which opens today in Sydney, but it flags problems for the coal industry. The report found more than 60 per cent want to cut subsidies that encourage fossil fuel industries such as coal, gas and oil, while 45 per cent want to reduce the size of the coal industry. The figures, based on research from Auspoll, will be viewed with some alarm by some in the coal industry, which is ramping up its lobbying campaign to win government investment in clean coal technology.

While the report finds 50 per cent support investing in clean coal, it is unclear whether they will support government putting up the money. Overall, concern about climate change remains high, with nine out of 10 saying they are "concerned" about the issue and almost half saying they are "very" concerned or "extremely" concerned. "In the aftermath of the world's first `climate change' election, public concern and hunger for action remains high," said the head of the Climate Institute Australia, John Connor. Despite the ratification of Kyoto by the Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, eight out of 10 say more needs to be done.