Forget Blues and Maroons, Which State is the Greenest?

Information verified correct on October 28th, 2016


We can butt heads all we like about who’s better at tossing a ball around, but which state is more likely to destroy the world as we know it?

It’s that time of year again when you become a target for verbal and sometime physical abuse in either NSW or QLD depending on the colour of your shirt — essentially making you the Milhouse of your oppositional state.

Whether we support the roaches or the cane toads, we’re all a blight on mother nature whether we would like to believe it or not. Over the last decade, solar panels and wind farm installations began spreading across the gloriously sunbaked country like antibodies and for the first time in human history, we’ve done something vaguely noble and taken action against emissions.

So, with the State of Origin fast approaching and that historic rivalry burning like the intensifying heat created by a MASSIVE HOLE IN THE SKY, we thought it was timely to compare which state is doing more to slow our descent into an increasingly desertified future.

Credit: These data were taken from a 2014 Climate Council report with data collected at the end of 2013.

Percentage of houses with solar photovoltaic (PV) systems


Total emissions by state and person (highest to lowest)

State measured by MtCO₂ -e (million metric tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent)

People measured t CO₂ -e


Total installed renewable energy capacity (Megawatts)


Electricity generation from renewables

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Best and fairest awards


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Ref’s decision

Round 1 - QLD wins points with solar and overall emissions

It may come as no surprise that QLD has a better infrastructure for solar PV than NSW. They’ll take any chance they can get to brag about the sun or call themselves ‘The Sunshine State’. 24% of Queensland dwellings have solar PV installed, as opposed to NSW’s measly 11.8%.

Not to mention NSW also produced the most emissions in 2012, clocking in at 149 million metric tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent. In terms of steel, that’s over 12,400 ANZ stadiums in just one year. Blues alright — you’d be blue too if couldn’t breathe for all the smog.

Round 2 - NSW residents pulling their weight

Wait, but what’s this? If we measure the amount of carbon emissions per person, we see a different story. Here, it is Queenslanders who contribute more emissions. In 2013, the average individual from Queensland contributed a massive 29.5 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide; the average New South Welshman, contributing a mere 20.4 metric tonnes. To add another twist, it turns out that Queenslanders aren’t the worst kind of people, as the State of Origin blues propaganda would have us all think. The Northern Territory produced a decadent 63 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent per person in 2013. Not hot enough for you Territorians?

Although Queensland has a higher percentage of houses with solar pv installed, NSW has the highest capacity for renewable energy: 5,681 Megawatts for NSW, and 2,219 Megawatts for QLD.

Round 3 - In a shock twist, a third team enters the fray

However, when it comes down to the nitty gritty, the actual amount of electricity generated via renewable resources, we’re both losers. Queensland sources just 6% of its electricity from a renewable resource, whereas NSW only generates a fraction more, at 7%. These efforts pale in comparison to Tasmania’s, where renewable energy sources provide 93% of their electricity.

So, it looks like while we were up here butting heads over who is better at throwing balls and breaking skulls, Tasmania rolled up their sleeves and got down to business.Though, the Tasmanian population sits at a humble 515,000 people (compared to QLD’s 4,740,000 and NSW’s 7,544,000), you’ve still got to give it to little guys for their commitment to a cleaner future. The ‘Apple Isle’ (who knew that’s what they liked to called?) is aiming for 100% dependance on renewable energy by 2020.

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