Victorian emission reductions wiped-out by population ponzi


By Leith van Onselen

The Victorian Government has released its Victorian Greenhouse Gas Emissions Report 2018, which noted that the state has done a good job in reducing per capita emissions:

Victoria’s per capita emissions decreased from 24 to 18.4 t CO2 -e between 1990 and 2016, a period during which the state’s population grew by 41%. In the period from 2005 to 2016, per capita emissions fell from 26 to 18.4 t CO2 -e (28%) despite population growing by 24% – see Figure 9.

However, this is being largely wiped-out by endless strong population growth:

Figure 4 presents Victoria’s annual greenhouse gas emissions over the period 1990 to 2016. Total net greenhouse gas emissions increased by 7.8 megatonnes (Mt) of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2 -e) (7.3%) between 1990 and 2016.


With emissions from Industrial processes and product use (IPPU) rising on the back of population growth:

A major driver of emissions trends in this sector is the increase of HFCs due to population growth. Between 1990 and 2016, Victoria’s population grew by 41% and IPPU emissions increased by 52%. The growth in product use-related emissions offset the reduction in emissions associated with a decline in industrial processing.

And transport emissions also growing via population growth:


Transport emissions grew by 6.2 Mt CO2 -e (39%) between 1990 and 2016 – the largest growth in emissions from any sector/sub-sector over this period. Contributing factors include growth in passenger vehicle emissions (which increased by 13.3% between 1990 and 2016) was driven by growth in the number of passenger vehicles and in the total passenger vehicle kilometres travelled, which reflected Victoria’s strong population growth. For example, the number of registered passenger vehicles in Victoria increased by approximately 73,000 each year from 2012 to 2016.

In fact, the report explicitly notes that population growth is a key driver of emissions trends across most sectors:

The discussion of sectoral projections below indicates that population growth is an important driver of emissions trends in a number of sectors/sub-sectors.

All of which makes Victoria’s (and Australia’s) task of lowering emissions to meet global commitments next to impossible, given the projected immigration-driven explosion in population over the next 50-years, according to the ABS’s medium (Series B) scenario:


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About the author
Leith van Onselen is Chief Economist at the MB Fund and MB Super. He is also a co-founder of MacroBusiness. Leith has previously worked at the Australian Treasury, Victorian Treasury and Goldman Sachs.