Effectiveness of atmospheric management

Component
Summary
Grade
Ineffective Partially effective Effective Very effective
Confidence
In Grade In Trend
Comparability
To previous years

Industrial point sources of pollution

This assessment summary component has changed from 2011.

  • Title has changed since 2011 assessment

The original 2011 summary, grade, trend and confidence levels have been replicated here to assist comparison of changes between reporting cycles.

Understanding: Generally very good understanding of air pollutants (types, amounts, sources and processes) from relevant industries, and of technologies and practices to prevent or control pollution

Year(s): 
2016
4
Stable
Confidence (in grade): 
Adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Adequate
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Comparable

Understanding: Very good understanding of air pollutants (types, sources and processes), of relevant industries and industrial processes, and of technologies and practices to prevent or control pollution

Year(s): 
2011
4
Stable
Confidence (in grade): 
Adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Adequate
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed

Planning: States and territories have well-established plans, policies, legislation and regulatory systems to monitor and control these sources

Year(s): 
2016
4
Stable
Confidence (in grade): 
Adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Adequate
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Comparable

Planning: States and territories have well-established plans, policies and regulatory systems to monitor and control these sources

Year(s): 
2011
4
Stable
Confidence (in grade): 
Adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Adequate
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed

Inputs: Levels of resourcing to support regulatory and nonregulatory programs vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, generally reflecting the nature and extent of industrial sources in the state or territory

Year(s): 
2016
4
Stable
Confidence (in grade): 
Adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Adequate
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Comparable

Inputs: Levels of resourcing to support regulatory and nonregulatory programs vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, generally reflecting the nature and extent of industrial sources in the state or territory

Year(s): 
2011
4
Stable
Confidence (in grade): 
Adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Adequate
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed

Processes: All jurisdictions have well-established processes to monitor and control these sources, including reporting, inspection and enforcement processes

Year(s): 
2016
4
Stable
Confidence (in grade): 
Adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Adequate
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Comparable

Processes: All jurisdictions have well-established process to monitor and control these sources, including inspection and enforcement processes

Year(s): 
2011
4
Stable
Confidence (in grade): 
Adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Adequate
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed

Outputs and outcomes: Jurisdictions apply works approvals, licensing and related regulatory mechanisms to limit types and quantities of pollutant emissions. Although performance levels vary, inspection and enforcement by environmental regulators, together with emissions monitoring and reporting, provide a sound basis for ensuring effective control of these sources

Year(s): 
2016
4
Stable
Confidence (in grade): 
Adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Adequate
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Comparable

Outputs and outcomes: Jurisdictions apply works approvals, licensing and related regulatory mechanisms to limit types and quantities of pollutant emissions. Although performance levels vary, inspection and enforcement by environmental regulators, together with emissions monitoring and reporting, provide a sound basis for ensuring effective control of these sources

Year(s): 
2011
4
Improving
Confidence (in grade): 
Adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Adequate
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed

Motor vehicle emissions

This assessment summary component has changed from 2011.

  • Title has changed since 2011 assessment

The original 2011 summary, grade, trend and confidence levels have been replicated here to assist comparison of changes between reporting cycles

Understanding: Good understanding of vehicle tailpipe emissions, and the relation of fuel quality and control technologies. However, differences between test and on-road emissions can be significant. No systematic verification of on-road emissions. Non-tailpipe emissions, such as dust from brake, tyre and road wear, are not as well quantified. Although non-tailpipe emissions are not projected to increase in absolute terms, they are becoming an increasing proportion of total vehicle emissions

Year(s): 
2016
3
Deteriorating
Confidence (in grade): 
Adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Adequate
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Comparable

Understanding: Very good understanding of pollution types, sources and processes, and of interaction of fuels and control technologies

Year(s): 
2011
4
Stable
Confidence (in grade): 
Adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Adequate
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed

Planning: National and state governments cooperate in relation to planning introduction of improved fuel and engine technology. Introduction of Euro6 originally proposed for 2018 was postponed. Planning now through a new Ministerial Forum on Vehicle Emissions, a whole-of-Australian government approach that includes ministers for environment, infrastructure, transport, major projects, resources and energy

Year(s): 
2016
2
Deteriorating
Confidence (in grade): 
Adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Adequate
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Comparable

Planning: Australian Government and state governments cooperate in relation to planning introduction of improved fuel and technology standards. Appropriate policy and legislative standards in place at national and state and territory levels

Year(s): 
2011
4
Stable
Confidence (in grade): 
Adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Adequate
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed

Inputs: Government cutbacks and focus on deregulation has reduced financial and staffing resources to address management issues. Last national in-service vehicle emissions study was in 2008, leading to considerable uncertainty in emissions factors used in modelling the air quality impact of new motorways and road tunnels, and in urban airshed modelling

 

Year(s): 
2016
2
Deteriorating
Confidence (in grade): 
Adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Adequate
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Comparable

Inputs: Adequate resourcing at national level for development and enforcement of standards for fuels and new-vehicle technology. Resourcing for in-service vehicle testing and enforcement at state and territory level is variable

Year(s): 
2011
3
Stable
Confidence (in grade): 
Adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Adequate
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed

Processes: Well-established national processes for promulgating and enforcing fuel and new vehicle emissions-control standards. Improving coordination at the national level between departments with new Ministerial Forum on Vehicle Emissions. Disbandment of bodies such as Fuel Standards Consultative Committee has the potential to reduce input from independent experts in decision-making

Year(s): 
2016
3
Deteriorating
Confidence (in grade): 
Adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Adequate
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Comparable

Processes: Respective roles of Australian Government and state and territory governments are clear. Well-established national processes for promulgating and enforcing fuel and new-vehicle emission-control standards, and good coordination between Australian Government and state and territory governments via ministerial councils and officials' working groups

Year(s): 
2011
4
Stable
Confidence (in grade): 
Adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Adequate
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed

Outputs and outcomes: New-vehicle emissions standards (Euro 5) introduced since SoE 2011. Generally cleaner vehicle fleet has seen reduction in total tailpipe emissions despite increases in total distance travelled

Year(s): 
2016
3
Stable
Confidence (in grade): 
Adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Adequate
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Comparable

Outputs and outcomes: National fuel and new-vehicle emission technology standards continue to be tightened. Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics projections show continuing improvements in vehicle pollutant emissions until 2020

Year(s): 
2011
3
Improving
Confidence (in grade): 
Adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Adequate
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed

Understanding: There is a generally good understanding of the particulate emissions from well-operated domestic wood heaters, but incomplete information about real-world emissions and nonparticulate (gaseous) emissions. Strong evidence available on their significant contribution to poor air quality and related adverse health impacts in many rural towns and urban areas in cooler months. Many factors complicate effective policy action (e.g. socio-economic status, aesthetics, tradition, perceived individual freedom vs community benefit, entrenched attitudes, denial of the problem)

Year(s): 
2016
3
Stable
Confidence (in grade): 
Adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Adequate
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed

Planning: National emissions standards for domestic wood heaters revised in 2015. Some jurisdictions have legislated to allow local government to ban new wood heaters except with specific approval (e.g. NSW). Plans in National Clean Air Agreement to adopt the best practices across jurisdictions of stronger compliance and improved in-service maintenance by 2017

Year(s): 
2016
2
Stable
Confidence (in grade): 
Adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Adequate
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed

Inputs: Management is generally the responsibility of local government, which has insufficient financial and human resources to address pollution from each individual heater. Increasing recognition of the need to ban domestic wood heaters (and open fires) in high-density residential areas or in areas with poor dispersion (e.g. valleys) where neighbours are affected

Year(s): 
2016
2
Stable
Confidence (in grade): 
Adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Adequate
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed

Processes: Emissions standards for domestic wood heaters updated in 2015, but long life of units means many operate with higher emissions. Effective management systems not yet in place, inconsistent policies across jurisdictions. Unwillingness of politicians to bite the bullet on this complex and controversial issue

Year(s): 
2016
2
Stable
Confidence (in grade): 
Adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Adequate
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed

Outputs and outcomes: Poor compliance with standards and suboptimal in-service use reduce the effectiveness of the new standards. Little or no reduction since SoE 2011 in contribution of wood heater emissions to air pollution in many areas during winter

Year(s): 
2016
2
Stable
Confidence (in grade): 
Adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Adequate
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed

Commercial and other domestic services

This assessment summary component has changed from 2011.

  • Title has changed since 2011 assessment

The original 2011 summary, grade, trend and confidence levels have been replicated here to assist comparison of changes between reporting cycles

Understanding: Generally good understanding of these pollution types, sources and processes. Most emissions from these sources are estimated using emissions factors rather than measurements because of the large number of sources. However, there is considerable variability and uncertainty in emissions factors for many of these sources

Year(s): 
2016
3
Stable
Confidence (in grade): 
Adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Adequate
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Comparable

Understanding: Generally sound understanding of pollution types, sources and processes (chiefly via the National Pollutant Inventory [NPI] and state agency emissions inventories), although the reliance on United States data for some NPI emission factors (in the absence of verification) raises concerns about the accuracy of some NPI data

Year(s): 
2011
3
Stable
Confidence (in grade): 
Adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Adequate
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed

Planning: State and territory, and (in some jurisdictions) local governments have established plans, policies and regulatory systems to monitor and control these sources. National Clean Air Plan includes establishing emissions standards for nonroad spark ignition engines (NRSIIE) such as gardening equipment (lawnmowers, brush cutters, leaf blowers, chainsaws, chippers) and recreational boating. Domestic wood heater emissions considered separately because, overall, they are such a major source of emissions

Year(s): 
2016
3
Stable
Confidence (in grade): 
Adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Adequate
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Comparable

Planning: States and territories and (in some jurisdictions) municipalities have established plans, policies and regulatory systems to monitor and control these sources

Year(s): 
2011
3
Stable
Confidence (in grade): 
Adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Adequate
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed

Inputs: Resources tend to focus on the significant issues from an airshed or jurisdictional point of view, but are quite variable between jurisdictions. Limited resources and monitoring for localised issues and legacy sources seen by some in the community as leading to inadequate management (e.g. odour complaints)

Year(s): 
2016
3
Stable
Confidence (in grade): 
Adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Adequate
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Comparable

Inputs: Resourcing levels to support regulatory and nonregulatory programs vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction and among municipalities

Year(s): 
2011
3
Stable
Confidence (in grade): 
Adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Adequate

Processes: Management systems in place or being developed (for NRSIIE). Division of responsibilities between jurisdictions and local government generally clearly defined, but not always clear to the community

Year(s): 
2016
3
Stable
Confidence (in grade): 
Adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Adequate
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Comparable

Processes: All states and territories (and many municipalities) have well-established processes to monitor and control these sources, including inspection and enforcement processes

Year(s): 
2011
3
Stable
Confidence (in grade): 
Adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Adequate
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed

Outputs and outcomes: Generally effective control of emissions with limited impact on local and (generally) airshed air quality. Complaints about odour and dust continue to be a major air quality issue for local government and EPAs

Year(s): 
2016
3
Stable
Confidence (in grade): 
Adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Adequate
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Comparable

Outputs and outcomes: Generally effective control of diffuse emissions such as volatile organic compounds from commercial premises and particles (wood smoke) from homes benefits air quality at both the airshed and local level. Ambient monitoring against the National Environment Protection (Ambient Air Quality) Measure standards shows that the standards are met on the great majority of days in all major cities. However, complaints about smoke and odour at the local level continue to be a major focus for investigation and enforcement action by state and municipal officials

Year(s): 
2011
3
Stable
Confidence (in grade): 
Adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Adequate
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed

Prescribed burning and bushfires

This assessment summary component has changed from 2011.

  • Title has changed since 2011 assessment

The original 2011 summary, grade, trend and confidence levels have been replicated here to assist comparison of changes between reporting cycles

Understanding: Good understanding and greater awareness of air quality and health impacts of smoke from planned burns and bushfires on firefighters, local communities and more distant communities, which can include large populations in urban areas. Some understanding of the differences in emissions from low-intensity planned burns and high-intensity bushfires

Year(s): 
2016
3
Improving
Confidence (in grade): 
Adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Adequate
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Comparable

Understanding: Recent work in Tasmania indicates that smoke from planned burns is a more significant source of diffuse particulate pollution than previously believed

Year(s): 
2011
2
Improving
Confidence (in grade): 
Limited
Confidence (in trend): 
Limited
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed

Planning: Burning for fuel reduction and habitat management purposes, and for forestry regeneration and related operations is subject to various guidelines or codes of practice, and is usually well planned and executed. Uncertainty about the balance between health impacts and the effectiveness of realistic amounts of planned burning for reducing bushfire severity

Year(s): 
2016
3
Stable
Confidence (in grade): 
Adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Adequate
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Comparable

Planning: Burning for forestry regeneration and related operations and for fuel reduction and habitat management purposes on public land is subject to various guidelines or codes of practice and is usually well planned and executed. Individual property managers make decisions on timing for planned agricultural burning, but must observe any local, regional and statewide restrictions

Year(s): 
2011
3
Stable
Confidence (in grade): 
Limited
Confidence (in trend): 
Limited
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed

Inputs: Increasing resources being directed towards air quality issues in planning burns, especially in improving smoke-forecasting models

Year(s): 
2016
3
Stable
Confidence (in grade): 
Adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Adequate
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not comparable

Highly variable; unable to assess

Year(s): 
2011
0
Unclear
Confidence (in grade): 
Low
Confidence (in trend): 
Low
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed

Processes: In most states and territories, authorities responsible for planned burning on public and forestry land have formal arrangements with EPAs, health agencies and local councils, which cover peevious notification, suitability of local meteorological conditions, smoke forecasting (sometimes), monitoring and public health warnings

Year(s): 
2016
3
Stable
Confidence (in grade): 
Adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Adequate
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Comparable

Processes: In most, if not all, states and territories, authorities responsible for planned burns associated with forest operations and management burns on public land have formal arrangements with environment protection agencies, health agencies and local municipalities, which cover prior notification, suitability of local meteorological conditions, monitoring and public health warnings

Year(s): 
2011
3
Stable
Confidence (in grade): 
Limited
Confidence (in trend): 
Limited
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed

Outputs and outcomes: Improving cooperation between agencies responsible for planned burning, and environment and health authorities. Improvements in smoke-forecasting capability are being included in planning of operations and giving improved notification to affected populations

Year(s): 
2016
3
Improving
Confidence (in grade): 
Adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Adequate
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Comparable

Outputs and outcomes: Although the position is variable among jurisdictions, there is anecdotal evidence indicating improved cooperation between agencies responsible for planned burning and environment and health authorities. There is also improved notification and greater recognition of the significance of local impacts on health, amenity, tourism and so on

Year(s): 
2011
2
Improving
Confidence (in grade): 
Limited
Confidence (in trend): 
Limited
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed

Understanding: Some understanding of emissions from these nonregulated transport sources, mainly large diesel engines, which have proportionately more particulate and NOx emissions than equivalent petrol engines. They include nonroad vehicles such as earth-moving and mining equipment, locomotives, and those used for commercial shipping and at ports

Year(s): 
2016
3
Improving
Confidence (in grade): 
Adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Adequate
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed

Planning: A national approach to manage these emissions sources is listed for development in the National Clean Air Agreement, following on from NSW’s Diesel and Marine Emissions Strategy

Year(s): 
2016
2
Improving
Confidence (in grade): 
Adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Adequate
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed

Inputs: Resources currently being deployed to gather information, develop policy proposals and undertake impact assessments

Year(s): 
2016
3
Stable
Confidence (in grade): 
Adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Adequate
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed

Processes: Management systems are currently not in place, but are under development in some jurisdictions and listed in the work plan for the National Clean Air Agreement. Lack of consistency and integration of management activities across jurisdictions is a problem

Year(s): 
2016
1
Stable
Confidence (in grade): 
Limited
Confidence (in trend): 
Limited
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed

Outputs and outcomes: Emissions from new nonroad diesel engines sold in Australia generally higher than in US or EU. Some engines poorly maintained and are very smoky. Regulation introduced in NSW in 2015 to reduce sulfur content of fuel used by cruise ships in Sydney Harbour, but this has since been deemed inoperative because of conflict with Commonwealth legislation. The issue is on the National Clean Air Agreement work plan

Year(s): 
2016
2
Unclear
Confidence (in grade): 
Limited
Confidence (in trend): 
Very limited
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed

Understanding: High level of understanding of nature and sources of ozone depleting substances (ODSs) and of the chemical processes through which they impact on stratospheric ozone. Likely future effect of greenhouse gases on recovery of stratospheric ozone is not as well understood. Links between reductions in ozone in the stratosphere, increased exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation and health effects (notably increased risk of skin cancer) are well understood

Year(s): 
2011
4
Improving
Confidence (in grade): 
Adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Adequate
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed

Planning: Signatories to the Montreal Protocol have well-established planning, policy-setting and regulatory mechanisms to give effect to their obligations to phase out ODSs

Year(s): 
2011
4
Stable
Confidence (in grade): 
Adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Adequate
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed

Inputs: The necessary public and private sector resources are being applied to achieve phase-out schedules agreed under the Montreal Protocol. Assistance is available to developing nations to implement agreed phase-outs

Year(s): 
2011
4
Stable
Confidence (in grade): 
Adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Adequate
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed

Processes: A range of processes have been established under the Montreal Protocol to facilitate and monitor action by signatories to implement agreed phase-outs

Year(s): 
2011
4
Stable
Confidence (in grade): 
Adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Adequate
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed

Outputs and outcomes: World production of ODSs continues to decline, and monitoring shows that atmospheric levels of ODSs peaked in the mid-1990s

Year(s): 
2011
4
Improving
Confidence (in grade): 
Adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Adequate
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed

Understanding: Although understanding is improving as a result of recent studies, most have focused on particular problems, such as unflued gas heaters or environmental tobacco smoke

Year(s): 
2011
2
Improving
Confidence (in grade): 
Limited
Confidence (in trend): 
Limited
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed

Planning: Although there are Australian standards for building materials and home heating devices, there is no national standard for indoor air quality

Year(s): 
2011
1
Stable
Confidence (in grade): 
Limited
Confidence (in trend): 
Limited
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed

Inputs: Variable across jurisdictions. Attention is largely restricted to unflued gas heaters and environmental tobacco smoke

Year(s): 
2011
2
Stable
Confidence (in grade): 
Limited
Confidence (in trend): 
Limited
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed

Processes: Unflued gas heaters are regulated in all jurisdictions. There has been significant growth in restrictions on smoking indoors

Year(s): 
2011
2
Improving
Confidence (in grade): 
Limited
Confidence (in trend): 
Limited
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed

Outputs and outcomes: Some areas of significant improvement (e.g. restrictions on indoor smoking in public venues and workplaces; New South Wales phase-out of unflued gas heaters in public schools), but overall highly variable

Year(s): 
2011
2
Improving
Confidence (in grade): 
Limited
Confidence (in trend): 
Limited
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed
Keywood MD, Emmerson KM, Hibberd MF (2016). Ambient air quality: Effectiveness of atmospheric management. In: Australia state of the environment 2016, Australian Government Department of the Environment and Energy, Canberra, https://soe.environment.gov.au/assessment-summary-39-effectiveness-atmospheric-management, DOI 10.4226/94/58b65c70bc372