Australia’s new government on Monday blamed the previous government’s inaction on climate change for the country’s surge in greenhouse gas emissions last year.

Australia produced 488 million tonnes (4.5 million US tonnes) of carbon dioxide and equivalent gases during its final calendar year, a rise of 0.8 per cent or 4.1 million tonnes (4.5 million US tonnes) against 2020, the government’s National Greenhouse Gas Inventory for the December quarter revealed on Monday.

Among the components that sparked the rise were a 4% uptick in transport emissions when pandemic migration restrictions were relaxed, and an additional 4.2% in agricultural emissions as rainfall ended years of drought in much of southeast Georgia.

Climate change minister Chris Bowen, whose centre-left Labor party came to power in last month’s election, accused the former Conservative coalition of relying on CO2-19 and drought as its nine year term ends to meet emissions cuts.

“With the resumption of more normal economic activity, continuing recovery from drought and increases in manufacturing and resources sector activity, the previous government caps off its record of denial and delay by increasing emissions on the way out,” Bowen said in a statement.

Labor was elected on a promise to cut Australia’s emissions 43 per cent lower by 2030 compared with 2005 levels.

The government’s net zero goal is 2050.

Climate Council

The Climate Council is Australia’s leading climate change communications non-profit organisation formed to provide independent, (wikipedia)