A tale of two graphs

The UK and Australia both released their national greenhouse gas emissions accounts for 2017 recently (provisional data for the UK was released just today), what a different story the data tells!

Allow me to present a graph of the national emissions in the UK, from 2000 to the most recently available data. The first time that I saw this graph (or a variant of it), I was probably less than a week into working in the UK. I excitedly pointed out to one of my colleagues that emissions are on a serious downward trajectory here! There has been a 35% reduction in emissions since 2000. Earlier this month analysis by Carbon Brief made headlines when it revealed that UK carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels had dropped to the same level as 1890.

​In case you were wondering, my colleagues were less impressed with all this and simply told me that the government isn’t doing enough to address climate change.

The graph below tells the dismal story from Australia that I was more familiar with. As you can see, greenhouse gas emissions in Australia are currently just a smidge under 2000 levels. And they have been increasing for the last four years!

For both the UK and Australia I have taken the data from their original government-published sources and made my own graphs, just so that you can directly compare them. ​

C’mon Australia! Why can’t we at least get our graph to move in the right direction! I wrote three years ago about our dubious claims to fame in reducing the national renewable energy target and repealing the carbon pricing mechanism. I guess the graph above shows the embarrassing outcome of those policy decisions.
For reference and further reading, here are the links to data sources for each country:

  • UK – Provisional UK greenhouse gas emissions national statistics 2017, published by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy. Available here.
  • Australia – Quarterly Update of Australia’s National Greenhouse Gas Inventory: September 2017 (incorporating electricity emissions up to December 2017), published by the Department of the Environment and Energy. Available here.
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