The “500 Biggest Polluters” Exposed – Everything The Government Is Not Telling You

25 Jul

Do you think that the “500 biggest polluters” are all – or even “mostly” – power stations, miners, and heavy industry?

That is certainly what the government would have you believe.

Take a careful, close look at the exact words used by our government on the “500 biggest polluting companies” page of their new website (emphasis added) –

Most are companies operating large facilities (with over 25,000 tonnes annual CO2-e emissions) that directly emit greenhouse gases, such as power stations, mines and heavy industry.

Seems pretty clear, doesn’t it?

If you take the government at their word, then you have been led to fully expect that “most” of the “500 biggest polluters” are power stations, mines, and heavy industry.

And, that “most” of the “500 biggest polluters” “directly emit” greenhouse gases.

Would it surprise you to learn then, that our electricity generators, along with all the related companies that supply electricity and maintain the transmission networks, only comprise a tiny 7% of the total companies listed on the government’s official NGER Register of “polluters”?

And would it surprise you to learn that the 2nd biggest number of “polluting companies” are actually Freight / Transport logistics firms.

That’s right … truckies.

The people who haul our food and everything else we need, right across this huge, sparsely populated island continent, to our local retailers where we can easily purchase it.

And would it surprise you to learn that the 3rd biggest number of “polluting companies” are actually Food Manufacturers.

That’s right … the good folk whose sweat and toil keep us all alive by taking the raw ingredients and making our daily bread … and cereal, and meat, and veges, and dairy products, and processed foods, and snacks, and … you get the idea.

And would it surprise you to learn, that the government’s own official National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting (NGER) department’s complete Register also includes the following categories of “biggest polluters”:

* 62 government entities, such as local councils and State-owned enterprises.

* 22 hospital / health care companies, encompassing 131 public and private hospitals, plus 100’s of day surgeries, clinics, aged care, rehab, palliative, mental and other health care services.

* 19 water utility companies.

* 19 universities.

* 7 renewable energy companies.

* 7 recycling companies.

* 3 biofuels companies.

* 3 scientific research and development companies (including the CSIRO).

* 18 public transport companies.

* 41 unknown, unidentifiable “companies”, including 3 whose ABN number (as provided to the NGER) is not recognised by ASIC, and 1 deregistered from ASIC.

* 7 companies now in receivership or liquidated.

* 1 recently-abandoned state government/private consortium joint venture company, that had been hoping to sell wind farms to China.

* 1 gold miner that ceased all active mining operations in Australia in September 2010.

* 1 gold miner with an office in Brisbane, but all active mining operations in Indonesia.

* Double-triple-quadruple-quintuple-ups of companies owned by the same parent, or recently merged.

The government claims that the (absence of any real) information it has (not) provided to the public about these “500 biggest polluting companies”, is based on the data from its own National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting (NGER) department.

Problem 1.

The NGER’s most recent Report dated April 2011 shows only 299 “polluters” reporting emissions for 2009-10.

Problem 2.

The NGER’s complete Register of “polluters” shows only 775 company names and/or their ACN numbers. And no other information.

So our first obvious question must be this:

How can the government justify the claim “1,000 of the biggest polluters”, endlessly repeated for months until mere days before unveiling their scheme, when their own official NGER Register only has 775 company names on it?

Our second obvious question must be this:

How can the government justify the claims made on their “500 biggest polluting companies” webpage, when

(a) only 299 companies reported emissions in their NGER department’s latest Report, and

(b) their official NGER Register of 775 “companies” provides no information by which to easily identify either the location, or industry sector, of each of those companies?

For example, here is what the government claims on its new website concerning the number of “biggest polluting” companies in each State:

Of these businesses, it is estimated that around:

  • 135 operate solely in New South Wales and the ACT
  • 110 operate solely in Queensland
  • 85 solely in Victoria
  • 75 solely in Western Australia
  • 25 solely in South Australia
  • 20 solely in Tasmania; and
  • fewer than 10 solely in the Northern Territory.
  • a further 45 liable entities operate across multiple states.

And the government goes on to claim that (emphasis added):

Of the 500 businesses:

  • around 60 are primarily involved in electricity generation
  • around 100 are primarily involved in coal or other mining
  • around 40 are natural gas retailers
  • around 60 are primarily involved in industrial processes (cement, chemicals and metal processing)
  • around 50 operate in a range of other fossil fuel intensive sectors; and
  • the remaining 190 operate in the waste disposal sector.

Note all the nice round numbers. “5’s” and “0’s”.

Importantly, the government then effectively negates any believability or value in its nice round number claims, with this ultimate catch-all, cover-your-arse disclaimer (emphasis added):

It should be noted that these numbers are estimates only, and are largely based on emissions data previously reported under the National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting system.

Got that?

The “around” this and “expected to be” that statements made earlier on the same page by the government, are “estimates only” based “largely” on the NGER data.

And what is the excuse for the lack of detail or clarity concerning the government’s claims about the “500 biggest polluting companies”?

Here is what they have to say about that, in the most recent government publication on the subject, hidden away on the Parliament House Library website, 14 July 2011 (emphasis added):

Which 500 companies pay the tax?

… The government has released a Factsheet detailing the types of facilities that will be covered and their distribution by State, but no information on which private and public bodies will actually be responsible for paying the tax.… the legislation includes caveats to protect the confidentiality of commercially sensitive information

For these reasons, the NGER data is not an accurate reflection of a company’s greenhouse gas emissions…

Nonetheless, and although imperfect, the NGER data is the only public information that provides any indication as to which companies may be liable under the proposed Carbon Pricing Mechanism. Bearing in mind the limitations of the data as just detailed, below is the latest NGER list, ordered by decreasing scope 1 emissions.

As we saw in my article “The ‘Biggest Polluters’ Are? – Food For Thought If You Like To Eat, Drink, Or Bathe”, after this catch-all disclaimer there follows a not-numbered list of “polluters” totalling (once you add them up yourself) … 299 companies.

In other words, it is just the NGER department’s latest Report, reordered. There is no new or additional information provided.

Well dear reader, your humble blogger has employed all of his spare time over the last week in researching the NGER’s entire 775 “company” Register.

Just to see exactly who and what kind of companies really are considered to be “the biggest polluters” in our nation.

Before I give you a link to download the spreadsheet for yourself, please take a few moments to brush up on the key details of what is included.

Because there’s a lot of information here.

The spreadsheet has eight (8) individual worksheets included, as follows:

Sheet 1 – NGER Report April 2011 (this is simply the government’s own most recent NGER Report, unedited – original here)

Sheet 2 – NGER Register March 2011 (this is simply the government’s most recently available copy of the complete NGER Register, unedited – original here)

Sheet 3 – Combined NGER by state, industry – HQ state listed if Multistate (this combines Sheet 1 + 2 data, plus my research. Key to note is that in the breakdown by State, this worksheet checks the box for the state where a company’s HQ or primary site is located, as well as checking the “Multiple States” box where applicable).

Sheet 4 – Combined NGER by state, industry – Multistate identifier only (this worksheet is the Daddy; it is per Sheet 3, but only checks “Multiple States” where applicable, rather than also checking the box for the company’s HQ state; this has been done to more easily and directly compare Totals per state with the government’s “500 biggest polluting companies” page)

Sheet 5 – “500 Biggest Polluters” >25k tonnes p.a. CO2 / By state (this worksheet compares the government’s claimed companies by State with the full NGER list)

Sheet 6 – “500 Biggest Polluters” >25k tonnes p.a. CO2 / By sector (this worksheet compares the government’s claimed companies by Sector with the full NGER list)

Sheet 7 – Operating Fossil Fuel Power Stns – (this worksheet is an unedited list of power stations found on the indicated government website. Please be aware that I am unable to ascertain its currency, but I note that in References there are quoted news articles from mid-late 2010, suggesting it may be the most currently available government information – original here)

Sheet 8 – APH Library – Carbon Pricing – Companies 14 July 2011 (as mentioned above, this is the table of 299 “polluters” in order of decreasing emissions, as published on the Australian Parliament House Library website 14 July 2011 – original here).

A couple of important points to note:

NOTE 1. On the far RHS of Sheets 3 & 4, you will see that I have listed the government’s six (6) industry sectors as worded on their “500 biggest polluting companies” webpage:

Electricity generation

Coal and other mining

Natural gas retail

Industrial (cement, chemicals, and metal processing)

Other fossil fuel intensive industries

Waste disposal

I have also added two more “sectors” of my own:

NONE (specifically) of Gov’s broad categories

UNKNOWN (no information available)

Four very important sub-points to understand are these.

(a) The totals for the 6 government-described industry sectors on the far RHS are just that … Totals. As you will see, I have also classified (where possible) every company listed on the NGER Register into one of 43 more detailed industry sector descriptions, that I have created.

(b) Where a company is government-owned, I have checked my “Government” sector for that company, and the relevant detailed industy description category as well.

(c) I have included companies involved in “(supply / distribution)” of electricity in the government’s category of “Electricity generation.

(d) With the exception of electricity-related companies as per (c), in researching the 775 company names listed in the NGER Register, if it was apparent to me that the company’s self-description of its activities (where available) did not clearly and directly fit the government’s precise stated wording of its 6 industry sectors, then in these RHS totals, I checked my own category “NONE…” as the default for that company. Or “UNKNOWN”, where no information is available on the internet.

The obvious result of this is that I have many companies listed in the RHS industry sector totals, in the category of “NONE…”.

Why? Because their actual activities do not necessarily fit the government’s mere 6 industry sector descriptions, as displayed on the “500 biggest polluting companies” webpage.

The government would (due to its deliberately choosing only 6 descriptions of industry sectors) clearly have no choice but to place most/all of the companies that I have totalled up in the “NONE…” category, into its misleading and deceptively titled “Other fossil fuel intensive industries” category.

Which brings me back to the #1 fundamental point made at the very beginning of this article.

One that goes to the very heart of this Green-Labor Government’s gross dishonesty, and blatant misrepresentation of truth.

Remember the opening words of the government’s “500 biggest polluting companies” webpage?

Here they are again –

Most are companies operating large facilities (with over 25,000 tonnes annual CO2-e emissions) that directly emit greenhouse gases, such as power stations, mines and heavy industry.

When categorised as closely as practicable in accordance with the 6 industry “sector” descriptions chosen by the government for their official webpage, then some 478 companies (according to my research) out of 775 companies listed in their NGER Register, would have to be lumped into the government’s category of “Other fossil fuel intensive industries”.

Furthermore, in consideration of the government’s own description of “most” of the “500 biggest polluting companies”, then this majority of companies on the NGER Register would be deemed by our government as “large facilities” that “directly emit greenhouse gases”, “such as power stations, mines, and heavy industries”.

Clearly, this is factually untrue.

The majority of individual companies listed on the official NGER Register are not “large facilities”.

Are not “power stations, mines, and heavy industries”.

And do not “directly emit greenhouse gases”.

Indeed, at best only 54 companies (7%) of the 775 total are currently, actively, and directly involved in the generation and supply / distribution of electricity.

At best, only 137 companies (17.6%) are miners, and/or primarily involved in “heavy” mining support industries.

And according to the NGER department’s latest Report, only 299 companies (out of 775) actually reported “direct” greenhouse emissions in 2009-10.

NOTE 2. I have included a colour coding system in Sheets 3 & 4, to help identify interesting anomalies in the NGER Register data. The colour codes and their descriptions are shown in the top LHS corner of those Sheets, and are self-explanatory.

Ok then, here it is.

The complete spreadsheet in xls format for you to download if interested:

NGER_Register_Report_Combined_Polluters (1.6Mb)

I do not wish to claim or even imply that my research is perfectly accurate in all respects. The paucity of available information on the internet concerning many of these companies, of itself ensures that it is imperfect.

However, it is a solid foundation for further research. And in particular, for comparison against future government claims.

Even as it presently stands, I believe it shines a clear light on the fuller truth concerning our so-called “biggest polluters”.

Ladies and gentlemen, the reality is this.

The Green-Labor Government wants you to only visualise images of power stations, mines, and heavy industries, whenever you hear or think about their “carbon pricing mechanism”.

Because their choice of words is propaganda.

Perception management.

Their choice of words conjures up images of dirty, sooty, sweaty, evil “big polluters”.

The truth of the matter though, is that their scheme will not benefit the planet one iota.

It will only benefit bankers. Because that is what all carbon dioxide tax/trading schemes are designed to do.

It will not “hurt” only the relatively small number of dirty, sooty mining companies and heavy industries. The people who make stuff.

(Especially not, when we now know that the government is giving free carbon permits equal to 94.5% of average emissions for the “worst” “polluters”, like aluminium refineries.)

Instead, the government’s carbon dioxide “pricing mechanism” will really hurt the many clean, hygienic companies who make your food.

And deliver your food.

It will hurt those clean, hygienic companies who provide you with water to drink, wash in, and flush your dunny with.

It will hurt those clean, hygienic companies who provide you with hospital and health care.

It will hurt those companies that provide you and/or your children with a university education.

It will hurt those companies that provide you with public transport.

It will hurt those companies who air and sea freight in all of the crap that you buy from overseas, because successive governments have so screwed over our manufacturing industry that this nation makes next-to-nothing ourselves anymore.

It will hurt most or all of the 93 manufacturing companies still left in this country (according to the NGER Register) – many of whom are already foreign-owned.

And yes, it will hurt the companies who dig wealth out of the ground, providing employment for tens of thousands of Aussies.

And yes, it will hurt the companies who (used to) provide us with cheap, efficient, reliable electricity to keep our lights on and appliances working.

It is a brilliant plan, dear reader.

That is, it’s brilliant if your goal is to enrich international bankers and carbon derivatives speculators.

While at the same time, under-mining the heart and soul of (what’s left of) our national economy.

This is the truth hiding below the surface of all the government’s lies.

You just have to take a closer look.

19 Responses to “The “500 Biggest Polluters” Exposed – Everything The Government Is Not Telling You”

  1. Tomorrows Serf July 25, 2011 at 8:21 am #

    Extraordinary work, BI !! A truly mammoth effort worthy of an Order of Australia.!!

    This nation is under attack from within!. A FIfth Column(and possibly a Sixth) is definitely at work in this country. The bankers are merely capitalising on an oppportunity to “financially strip mine” our country for MASSIVE profits, at our collective cost over many years, assisted by some of our complicit politicians and “eminent” JAFA’s.

    The sooner our fellow Aussies realise that Australia is a “prize” worth fighting for, the better. The sooner more people stop taking for granted the fact that we have been granted a unique privilege by posterity, the more likely it will be that we MAY be able to pass on this privilege to the next generations of future Aussies. (and if I hear another CHILDLESS political leader make another reference to “our children and our children’s children”)

    So there we have it. Our Food, Water, Transport, Manufacturing, Health Care,Education, Energy supply and Wealth generation industries, are all under ECONOMIC ATTACK. I’d call that comprehensive assault on ALL FRONTS! Our income declines and our costs increase.. The end result is fairly plain to see.

    All in the name of Global Warming.

    Congratulaions Julia, Wayne, Malcolm, Ross, John(Hewson), Peter, Penny, et al……. a stirling effort to destroy our country.

    Your job is nearly complete!

    • JMD July 25, 2011 at 9:35 am #

      You could start by refusing to bid for the bad credit of the government. The dollar that is.

      In fact it is the only way, since whether it be carbon credit or some other ‘credit’ currently being dreamt up in the executive suite of Goldman Sachs, if it has the backing of government credit, that being your $ denominated bank account, those with their hands on the levers of said credit will prevail.

      At least until the whole ‘monertary’ system blows sky high.

      • JMD July 25, 2011 at 9:38 am #


        & nice work TBI, I’m sure Barnaby would be able to use this.

      • The Blissful Ignoramus July 25, 2011 at 11:38 am #

        JMD, this is indeed the ultimate solution, and message that not only Australia but the world at large, needs to cotton on to. You are 100% correct … the only way to beat the (banksters’) system, is to abandon it personally as much as possible. And, look to create alternatives.

    • The Blissful Ignoramus July 25, 2011 at 11:38 am #

      Thx TS, well said.

  2. Whacked July 25, 2011 at 9:02 am #

    I just hope someone will take up the baton and ram it home in the media and on the floor of Parliament.

    • Paul James July 25, 2011 at 7:36 pm #

      Unfortunately, that may be nothing more than wishful thinking Whacked, and it seems to me that Australians at large are tired of this issue and seem to be getting cozy with the lazy opinion of “well, we have to do something about climate change”. I’m really beginning to hate that phrase and anyone who uses it.

  3. Fred July 25, 2011 at 10:39 pm #

    Hi BI, great work on the spreadsheet.
    Just in case; have you ever used the Excel “Auto filter” functionality?
    Also the “Subtotal” worksheet function and conditional cell formatting.
    Pretty handy tools that you and your readers may find very useful for making it easy to rapidly sift and re-manipulate the data.

    Yes there seems as though could easily be a fair whack of double carbon counting.

    • The Blissful Ignoramus July 25, 2011 at 10:50 pm #

      Ah … no, I haven’t Fred. I’m less than expert with spreadsheets.

      But thanks for the hint – I’ll find time in next couple days to try and learn those tools, and then update the spreadsheet (if I can).

  4. JustMEinT Musings July 28, 2011 at 5:18 pm #

    Thanks for all your hard work…… let’s hit the media and ensure they print it

    • Frances July 28, 2011 at 8:20 pm #

      Great idea JustMeinT I will call up MTR 1377 tomorrow and let them know about this article.

  5. Helen Butler August 3, 2011 at 2:44 pm #

    Really interesting reading. Will be using with my Economics class on the topic!

  6. Colin Dixon August 8, 2011 at 9:16 am #

    Very interesting, as I thought, the government has no clue how much CO2 our country emits any way. They “they” are making it all up, everything.

  7. ArcHammer November 9, 2011 at 10:17 pm #

    Oh I don’t know anymore, I don’t know what’s going on, I don’t think the government is doing a good job, most people don’t even know the SCIENCE behind the whole carbon pollution issue…

  8. Robert Kellehear March 2, 2012 at 6:03 pm #

    Great work on this , I just hope that the opposition can use it to knock them off their perch & then explain frequently to the Australian people just how they’ve been betrayed . I say frequently because telling them once wont sink in , just like the subject is sunk in now . A huge amount of people believe the propaganda so we’ve got to somehow diffuse it . Your article is a great start . Come on Barnaby pick it up , shine the ball & bowl them out . PLEASE .


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