The state Government’s says their promise to offset the desalination plant’s electricity use with renewable energy credits, makes the plant’s huge energy use OK. Better than not offsetting at all, if they must build the plant, however this option prevents the reductions in greenhouse emissions that are required to avoid catastrophic climate change. The analysis below uses the recently released Australian Greenhouse Audit to look at the figures:
Victorian emissions soaring, and water a culprit!
From the Federal Governments National Inventory of Greenhouse Gas Emmissions by Economic Sector 1990-2007 (http://www.climatechange.gov.au/inventory/2007/pubs/NIES.pdf):
In 2007, Victoria had the highest emissions of all the states in the electricity, gas and water sector, at 65.2 Million tonnes CO2 equivalent (Mt CO2-e).
We have eclipsed NSW who were the highest in this sector in the 1990’s.
Victoria has increased its emissions in this sector by some 40.8% between 1990 and 2007, from 46.3 to 65.2 Mt CO2-e. NSW only increased their emissions in this sector by 32.3% over the same period.
Victoria will increase its annual emissions by another 1.2 Mt CO2-e by the operation of the proposed desalination plant (if kept to the 150 gigalitre capacity rather than the design maximum of 200 gigalitres). This represents another 2.6% increase above our 1990 levels in the water, electricity and gas sector.
Alternative water supply options could have sourced the same volume of water at not much more than a quarter the emissions. To put this another way, water supply need only have increased our emissions some 0.7% further above 1990 levels rather than the 2.6% now being proposed.
Our overall emissions must be reduced, not increased, from 1990 levels to avoid catastrophic climate change. Australia will hopefully reduce its emissions by something like 30% on 1990 levels by 2020. How will this be done when states like Victoria appear uninterested in actually reducing emissions?
Offsetting the desalination plant’s emissions with renewable energy credits will merely cover the new emissions. There will be no net reduction in emissions. Had the Victorian Government pushed the alternative water supply options, we would have had nearly three quarters of the renewable energy available, to actually offset and reduce some 1.9% of those 1990’s emissions (¾ x 2.6 = 1.9). The Victorian Government has instead decided to tie up these renewables (currently more than the quantity available) to cover their wasteful and unnecessary desalination plant.