Analysis Finds Australia’s Per Capita Emissions of CO2 Highest Among G20 Nations

Recent analysis has revealed that Australia produces more per capita greenhouse gas emissions from coal combustion than other G20 countries. Although Australia and South Korea have seen a significant increase in wind and solar energy in recent years, cutting per-person emissions from coal-generated electricity by 26% and 10% respectively from 2015, analysis from energy think tank Ember shows that both nations still emit more carbon dioxide than other leading economies.

China ranks third in terms of per-capita emissions after Australia and South Korea, thanks to a 30% increase in CO2 emissions from coal-fired electricity over the past seven years. Like Australia, China has built a significant network of clean-energy infrastructure in recent years, installing a whopping 670 gigawatts of clean-energy capacity, which represents around one-third of the entire globe’s solar and wind capacity, since 2015.

However, increases in the generation of coal-powered electricity surpassed China’s progress in renewable-energy generation, the analysis showed, causing Chinese CO2 emissions to surpass emissions from a majority of G20 nations.

Ember’s analysis noted that Australia used double the amount of electricity China used on a per capita basis with nearly 50% of the electricity coming from coal-fired power plants. Although this represents a 65% reduction in coal-generated electricity use from 2015, the analysis found that per-capita coal emissions from Australia in 2022 were more than four times the global average.

Ember’s global electricity insights lead Dave Jones says that while emerging nations with massive populations, such as India and China, often take the flak for producing most of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, the recent analysis shows that Australia and South Korea were much bigger polluters once analysts factored their populations. Jones noted that such mature economies should be confidently and ambitiously scaling up their renewable energy production to ensure they can phase out coal-generated energy by the end of the decade.

The coal emissions report added that Australia was also enabling other countries to emit greenhouse gases by mining and exporting its massive coal reserves. Australia is currently the second-largest exporter of coal on the globe after Indonesia and exports tens of billions’ worth of coal every year.  Its main domestic electricity grid supplies power to five East Coast states and draws 35% of its energy from renewable power.

The Australian government has a target of 82% renewable energy by 2030, but many experts doubt that the country will be able to achieve this goal at its current pace.

These realities show that coal use isn’t going to suddenly end. Enterprises such as Alliance Resource Partners LP (NASDAQ: ARLP) are likely to keep meeting the demand for coal around the world until greener sources of energy, including wind and solar, become reliable enough to meet countries’ energy requirements.

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