NT: Green issues and sustainable living not a priority
The environment and its close association with energy and water conservation are becoming increasingly important to Australians, but not the Northern Territory.
Drought and water restrictions, greenhouse gas emissions and the rising cost of fuel and power have firmly placed environmental issues at the front of social and economic debate in Australia.
While Territorians seem isolated from some of the issues affecting the rest of Australia, such as the southern water restrictions, government policies and education campaigns are increasingly encouraging all Australians to reduce the amount of resources they use.
Understanding how Territorians respond to these changes is essential for assessing the impact of these policies and campaigns.
Environmental views and behaviour
In 2007–08 the ABS conducted a national survey of people aged 18 years and over to obtain a better understanding of the factors that influence people to participate in environmental activities and energy and water conservation practices.
The results, published in Environmental Views and Behaviour, 2007–08 (2nd issue) (cat. no. 4626.0.55.001), showed that Territorians were less concerned about many issues relating to the environment than people elsewhere in Australia.
Please note that for the purposes of this survey, results for the NT exclude persons living in very remote areas, which account for about 23% of the population in the NT.
For example, while 69% of Territorians expressed concern about climate change, this was the lowest level of concern reported for any state or territory (closely followed by New South Wales – 70% and Queensland – 72%) and lower than the national average of approximately 74%.
And while a large proportion of Australians reported using green or reusable shopping bags when grocery shopping all or most of the time (41%), Territorians were the most likely to report rarely or never using them (34% compared with 25% nationally).
Additional information about household practices in relation to domestic energy use can be found in Environmental Issues: Energy Use and Conservation, Mar 2008 (cat. no. 4602.0.55.001).
Please note that results for the NT exclude dwellings in very remote areas.
Just over half of Territory dwellings had solar hot water systems, the highest proportion in Australia (54% compared with 7% nationally). The NT also recorded the highest proportion of dwellings using fluorescent lighting (82% compared with 58% nationally).
In contrast, dwellings in the NT and Tasmania were least likely to use other types of energy saving lighting (50% compared with 59% nationally), but uptake in the NT has more than doubled in the six years to 2008.
The NT recorded the highest proportion of households with two or more fridges (44% compared with 34% nationally), but had the lowest proportion of households with a main fridge aged 10 or more years (17% compared with 30% nationally).
Power and Water Corporation is the sole provider of electricity in the NT. During the two years from 2006–07 to 2008–09, the number of electricity services to customers increased by an average of 0.4% per year (note that an electricity service to a customer may be to an individual, a household, a business, or many metered services that may be the responsibility of a single corporation). Average usage per customer increased by an average of 4% over the same period.
When Territorians (excluding persons living in very remote areas) were asked whether they took steps to limit their personal electricity use, 19% stated they did not (Environmental Views and Behaviour, 2007–08 (2nd issue) (cat. no. 4626.0.55.001)).
This was the highest proportion of any state or territory (the next highest was Tasmania at 15%), and higher than the Australian average of 12%.
When asked whether their personal electricity use had increased, decreased or stayed the same in the last 12 months, Territorians were the least likely to report their personal electricity usage had decreased (37% compared with 47% nationally), and were the most likely to report an increase in personal electricity usage (11% compared with 7% nationally).
Further, Territorians were most likely to cite cost saving as a reason for decreasing their electricity use (40%, almost double the national average of 21%) and least likely to cite conserving energy as a reason (69% compared with 80% nationally).
At 8pm on 29 March 2008 an estimated 50 million people around the world turned off non-essential lighting to raise awareness of the need to take action on climate change. When Territorians joined other Australians in switching off lights for Earth Hour, Power and Water Corporation monitored the result.
Between 8pm and 9pm the Territory’s electricity consumption dropped by 5.8MWh or 3.5 tonnes of greenhouse emissions. This is equal to around 6,000 cars being off the road for that hour.
Power and Water Corporation is also the sole provider of water in the NT. During the six years from 2002-03 to 2008-09, the number of customers purchasing water from Power and Water Corporation increased by an average of 4% per year, while average water usage per customer declined by 17%, from 1,326kL per year (or 3,634 litres per day) in 2002–03 to 1,101kL per year (or 3,017 litres per day) in 2008–09.
As with electricity, there is some complexity in interpreting trends in the actual consumption and usage of water, since one customer is the equivalent of one water meter and so includes both residential and commercial users.
When asked whether their personal water use had increased, decreased or stayed the same in the last 12 months, Territorians (excluding persons living in very remote areas) were the least likely to report their personal water usage had decreased (22% compared with 55% nationally), and the most likely to report an increase in personal water usage (11% compared with 4% nationally) (Environmental Views and Behaviour, 2007–08 (2nd issue) (cat. no. 4626.0.55.001).
For more information on environmental issues produced by the ABS visit the Environment Themes page for a complete list of publications on environment and energy statistics.
Browse the IndustrySearch directory: Waste Management & Environmental Control.
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