Photo: Environmental groups say the Government is only releasing the data under media pressure. (Reuters: Jason Lee)
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The Federal Government has released new data showing a rise in greenhouse gas emissions on the last quarter, following reports this morning it deliberately kept them hidden.An update from the National Greenhouse Gas Inventory shows that emissions increased by 0.3 per cent in the December 2016 quarter, and 0.4 per cent the quarter before that.
The release of information came after documents obtained under FOI laws appeared to show the Government delayed the release of the report.
Government correspondence revealed it was ready for release in May, and had already been seen by Minister for the Environment and Energy Josh Frydenberg.
A statement from Mr Frydenberg's office attributed the fall in electricity sector emissions to the use of more hydro and less brown coal in generation.
"Australia has a strong track record on international emissions reduction targets," the statement read."We beat our first Kyoto target by 128 million tonnes and are on track to meet and beat our second Kyoto 2020 target by 224 million tonnes."
Government embarrassed to release dataBut environmental groups have accused the Government of only releasing the data under pressure from the media.
Chief executive of the Australian Conservation Foundation, Kelly O'Shanassy, said the Government was embarrassed to release it.
"It does show the climate pollution is on the rise, and if I was a cynical person I would say the Government didn't want to release that until they were forced to," Ms O'Shanassy said.
Photo: Government correspondence revealed Mr Frydenberg had already seen the data. (ABC News: Andrew O'Connor)
She said she was glad that electricity sector emissions had decreased, but argued much more needed to be done.
"They haven't gone down by much, and we know that this government wants to build new coal plants," she said.
Greens climate change and energy spokesperson Adam Bandt was also cynical about the timing of the release of new data.
"After being caught out trying to keep pollution data secret, the Government has released the figures and they paint a grim picture," Mr Bandt said.
He said that LNG production and coal-seam gas were driving increases in emissions.
"The push to frack and export gas is blowing our carbon budget, with LNG and coal-seam gas emissions pushing pollution up above last year's levels," he said.
Independent modelling shows worse on the wayClimate change consultancy group NDEVR Environmental attempted to replicate the Government's methods for measuring trends in emissions.
It said the March 2017 quarter — the next in line to be published — was likely to contain worse news.
"We've projected about 1.3 per cent increase in emissions, which is a pretty big spike in greenhouse gas emissions over a quarter," managing director Matt Drum said.
"When there's no massive renewable generation, aside from the standard solar and wind … your emissions spike, and that's what we've seen in March."However Mr Drum said he was less concerned with quarterly fluctuation than he was with the overall trend in Australia.
"Emissions [are] heading north, when they need to be heading south," he said.