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Fugitive emissions sector greenhouse gas emissions

Key Finding

In 2018, emissions from the fugitive emissions sector contributed 19.1 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e), or 11% of Queensland’s total emissions. Emissions increased by 93% between 2005 and 2018 owing to growing coal mining and natural gas production.

Fugitive emissions are the emissions that are lost to the atmosphere during coal and gas mining activities.

Emissions were 19.1 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e) in 2018. This represents 11% of Queensland’s total emissions and the long-term trend is increasing emissions.

  • This compares with 3.2 MtCO2e in 1990.
  • In 2005, emissions were 9.9 MtCO2e.

This strong growth in fugitive emissions is a result of expansion in Queensland’s coal and gas extractive industry. Fugitive emissions also spiked in 2015 as large natural gas processing plants came online.

The main sources of fugitive emissions in 2018 were:

  • underground coal mining (46%)
  • surface coal mining (26%)
  • natural gas extraction (25%).

Fugitive emissions are mostly methane, a GHG with a global warming potential 25 times higher than carbon dioxide over a 100-year period.

  • Methane is found in coal and oil deposits and is released during the mining or extraction process.
  • Methane also is the primary component of raw natural gas and is often released during extraction and processing.

The graph shows the consistent increase in fugitives from the coal mining industry between 1990 and 2018 and the sudden growth in fugitives arising from the natural gas industry between 2014 and 2018.

Queensland has the largest share of fugitive emissions in Australia.

More information:

Relevant Sustainable Development Goals’ targets

  • GOAL 3: GOOD HEALTH AND WELL-BEING
  • GOAL 11: SUSTAINABLE CITIES AND COMMUNITIES
  • GOAL 12: RESPONSIBLE CONSUMPTION AND PRODUCTION

Proportion of fugitive emissions by state, 2018

  • Chart
  • Table
StateEmissions (million tonnes)
Queensland19.061
Western Australia14.194
New South Wales13.003
Victoria3.869
South Australia2.578
Northern Territory1.611
Australian Capital Territory0.000
Tasmania0.000

Proportion of Queensland’s fugitive emissions by category, 2018

  • Chart
  • Table
CategoryEmissions (million tonnes)
Underground coal mining8.763
Surface coal mining4.915
Oil and Natural Gas4.832
Other mining0.551

Trends in Queensland’s fugitive emissions, by category

  • Chart
  • Table
YearUnderground coal miningSurface coal miningOther miningOil and Natural Gas
19901.0671.6600.0000.438
19911.4011.7160.0000.441
19921.4861.8560.0000.456
19931.5291.8960.0000.487
19941.9431.9090.0000.554
19952.6871.9670.0000.598
19961.8862.0100.0000.621
19973.4072.0990.0000.652
19984.1832.1310.0000.624
19993.8562.2210.0010.689
20005.2882.2630.0020.657
20014.9132.6030.0020.757
20024.6102.9040.0020.779
20034.8642.9820.0010.765
20044.5143.1600.0040.721
20055.5113.5390.0080.804
20065.0673.5570.0100.826
20075.7613.6870.0110.851
20086.6433.5340.0280.932
20095.7263.8550.1491.645
20106.8444.0870.1411.913
20116.4833.4910.1361.881
20127.0713.8680.1731.953
20137.1434.2340.4411.803
20146.0424.6210.4732.288
20156.9804.7460.4944.237
20167.4124.7650.4835.212
20177.5294.7140.4945.328
20188.7634.9150.5514.832

Queensland’s total fugitive emissions

YearEmissions (million tonnes)
19903.165
19913.557
19923.798
19933.913
19944.405
19955.251
19964.517
19976.158
19986.939
19996.767
20008.209
20018.275
20028.295
20038.612
20048.399
20059.862
20069.460
200710.311
200811.137
200911.376
201012.985
201111.991
201213.066
201313.622
201413.425
201516.457
201617.871
201718.065
201819.061

Download data from Queensland Government data

Metadata

Queensland annual greenhouse gas emissions in carbon dioxide equivalent from 1990–2018 by fugitive emissions sector. Total fugitive emissions sector greenhouse gas emissions in millions of tonnes carbon dioxide equivalent comparing states for 2018. Source: Australian Greenhouse Emissions Information System, Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources.