The 28.6 tons (21.9 tons if emissions associated with the exportation of goods are omitted) of CO2 emitted, on average, by each Australian yearly, are mostly from food, shelter, and household goods. Those sectors of the economy are responsible for 35% of the carbon emissions of each average Australian. Electricity, natural gas, LPG and other fuels combine to make 16% of total per person emissions, with the majority being electricity. All travel amounts to about 17% of the total, and purchases of goods and services are responsible for one quarter of the total emissions.
Australia composes only .32% of the world’s population. However, the country accounted for 1.43% of the world’s CO2 emissions. In 2004, Australia’s calculated emissions per person was 450% higher than the global average. By 2009, it was reported that Australia’s CO2 emissions per person was even higher than that of America. Much of the reason for their high emissions is because Australians use a lot of coal-based energy and drive a lot of cars.
Interestingly enough, Australia just passed the US as the highest per capita emitter of carbon dioxide (hooray for us?). According to the Australian Department of Environment, the reason it has such high per capita emissions is due to its “relative abundance of cheap fossil fuels, high dependence on coal-fired power generation, the energy intensity of [its] exports (such as aluminium, steel and coal), long distances between cities and [its] high standard of living.” Indeed, the last reason explains why Australia as a developed country emits more than a developing country like China per capita. Among the developed countries, however, it’s really cheap fossil fuels and long distances that make the most impact on emissions. Canada, which is the third highest in per capita emissions, is also a wealthy country with excellent green technology development, but its cheap energy and large land area (like Australia) makes it on the whole not very energy efficient. Compare that with Japan or the UK, where energy is expensive and distances are shorter, and you’ll find that they emit only about half that of Australia, the US, and Canada.
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