The Australian Conservation Foundation’s claims about “Pollution by Postcode” manipulates National Pollutant Inventory (NPI) data to give a misleading picture of the relative air qualities in different geographical locations, according to the Australian Energy Council.
A spokesman for the Council said the NPI records only large industrial emissions, such as power plants, and does not capture the dominant causes of Australian air pollution which are from small sources, like vehicles and wood heaters, or natural sources, such as bushfires and controlled burns.
“Take particulate emissions. Natural sources are Australia’s predominant contributor but are not reported in the NPI data. A NSW EPA Air Quality Study for the NSW Greater Metropolitan Region found sources such as windblown dust and bushfires accounted for 60 per cent of PM2.5 emissions, while 40 per cent came from man-made sources, and of that 40 per cent, 31 per cent come from wood heaters, 26 per cent from industry, 19 per cent from road transport and only 17 per cent from power stations.
“The ACF material presents only industrial emissions which will do nothing but mislead people living in towns near power stations, such as Traralgon and Muswellbrook, into believing they suffer dirtier air than Melbourne and Sydney, when the reverse is true.
“Equally, the ACF ignores the fact that analysis of NPI emissions data for coal-fired power plants shows that over the past five years there has been a fall in NOx, SO2, particulate and mercury emissions (see table below and trend graphs).
“Assessments by IQAir using World Health Organisation standards show that towns reliant on wood heating, like Armidale in New South Wales, have the worst air quality in the country.
“And it shows Australia continues to enjoy far cleaner air than most other countries around the world.
“Independent monitoring and reporting of data is important to the national conversation on air quality, and it cannot be advanced by the misuse of data.”
Reductions in past five years
Source: NPI data
About the Australian Energy Council
The Australian Energy Council is the peak industry body for electricity and downstream natural gas businesses operating in the competitive wholesale and retail energy markets. AEC members generate and sell energy to 10 million homes and businesses and are major investors in renewable energy generation. The AEC supports reaching net-zero by 2050 as well as a 55 per cent emissions reduction target by 2035 and is committed to delivering the energy transition for the benefit of consumers.