Australia: Entry 5

30 April 2003: Cairns, Australia

Subject: Australia

The Australian Business Council for Sustainable Energy

I just have to write something about this lot.

What does "sustainable" mean to you? Here is one dictionary definition: "a method [...] of using a resource so that the resource is not depleted or permanently damaged". But to the Australian Business Council for Sustainable Energy (, "sustainable energy" is electricity that is produced with less carbon dioxide emmissions than a coal-fired power station. So that includes gas-powered generation. Which is odd because, in Britain at least, gas is going to run out way before coal or anything else. I reckon it's about the least sustainable form of power there is. But by using this definition the ABCSE - one of whose sponsors is a gas company - can claim that Australia produces 20% of its power "sustainably". Even if that statistic were true it would still be a pretty poor achievement since the country has so much obvious potential for hydro, wind, solar and other forms of genuinely sustainable energy.

Australia is one of the few countries who, along with the U.S., oppose the Kyoto treaty on greenhous gas emmissions. And believe it or not Australia actually has higher per-capita greenhouse gas emissions than the U.S.! (They are lower when you just look at energy use, but if you also factor in agricultural and land-use-change contributions (e.g. cutting down forests), they are the world's worst polluter.)

Just thought you might like to know that!