NSW greenhouse gas emissions and trends
Stationary Energy - 67 million tonnes (51% of total emissions)
More than half of all NSW emissions in 2018 were from the stationary energy sector, primarily from energy industries. Emissions in the sector grew steadily from 1990 to 2008, but since 2008 have decreased due to reduced energy demand during the global financial crisis, increased energy efficiency and more electricity generation from renewable energy sources. However, emissions have been increasing again since 2015 as energy demands returned.
Burning fossil fuels accounts for over 99% of emissions in the sector. Coal combustion alone produces 53.5 million tonnes of emissions annually or 41% of all NSW greenhouse gas emissions.
Transport - 29 million tonnes (22% of total emissions)
Transport emissions are currently the second largest component of NSW greenhouse gas emissions.
Since 1990, transport emissions have increased by 10 Mt, with 2018 emissions 53% higher than 1990 levels. This is an average increase in transport emissions of 1.5% per year. This reflects activity increases across transport modes due to population and economic growth.
The major source of transport emissions is road transport which accounts for 86% of all NSW transport emissions. This reflects the importance of motor vehicles for passenger, light commercial and freight transport within the state.
Emissions from aviation, rail and others account for the remaining 14%.
Fugitive emissions from fuels - 13 million tonnes (10% of total emissions)
The fugitive emissions from fuels sector includes emissions from coal mining and oil and gas recovery, transport and storage. Fugitive emissions in NSW are dominated by emissions from coal mining (93% of all fugitive emissions).
Most fugitive emissions in NSW come from underground (10.4 Mt) and surface (1.7 Mt) coal mines.
Fugitive emissions grew during the mining boom but have gradually fallen since 2007.
Industrial processes and product use - 14 million tonnes (10% of total emissions)
Emissions in the industrial processes and product use category include a variety of primarily chemical processes involved in industrial production. The sector covers a wide range of activities including: iron and steel production; production of cement; lime production; limestone and dolomite use; chemical manufacturing and aluminium production.
Emissions in this sector have been static since 1990.
Agriculture - 18 million tonnes (14% of total emissions)
The primary source of agricultural emissions is methane produced by ruminants, such as cows and sheep as they digest their food. These emissions account for 70% of all NSW agricultural emissions (12.6 Mt) and are almost entirely composed of emissions from cattle and sheep.
Although emissions from agriculture have reduced by 31% since 1990, they have increased in 2016 and 2017. However, emissions decreased again in 2018 during the height of the drought, predominantly from reduction in the number of cattle There was an increase in emissions from sheep in 2018 compared to 2017.
Waste – 4 million tonnes (3% of total emissions)
Waste emissions are divided into solid waste disposal on land (landfills), which accounts for most waste emissions (3 Mt), and wastewater handling (sewage treatment).
Since 1990, emissions from waste have decreased by 41% as increased waste associated with growing populations and industrial production have been offset by higher recycling rates and methane recovery at landfills. However, emissions have increased from 3.5 Mt in 2017 to 4.3 Mt in 2018.
Land use, land use change and forestry – minus 13 million tonnes (-9% of total emissions)
This sector includes emissions from land clearing and deforestation with carbon sequestered through reforestation activities. Overall, the sector was a net sink of emissions, helping to reduce total NSW emissions from 145 Mt to 132 Mt (9%) in 2018.
Emissions from land sector have fallen dramatically since 1990. In 1990 27.6 million tonnes of greenhouse gases were emitted, driven mainly by land clearing. Since then, changes in land clearing regulations and increasing regeneration, reforestation and afforestation have resulted in net carbon dioxide uptake in forests, other vegetation and soils in NSW within the land sector.
However, there has been consecutive decline in carbon sequestration by forests since 2016, resulting from simultaneous increasing emissions from deforestation and declining carbon sequestration in vegetation and soils due to lower regrowth and increase in timber harvesting.
Black carbon, in the form of airborne particulate matter less than or equal to 2.5 micrometres in diameter, is emitted from combustion processes. In 2018, land sector contributes to 65% of NSW black carbon emissions through bushfires alongside with land management operations such as land clearing and post-harvest fires and hazard reduction burns according to UNFCCC method. The transport sector is the second largest contributor (27 %) due to diesel and petrol use by passenger and freight vehicles and kerosene use in aviation.