Emissions from the power sector fall in Australia since carbon tax

Emissions from the power sector have been dropping in Australia, particularly since the introduction of a $23 a tonne price on carbon in mid-2012, making renewable energy supplies more attractive. Exactly, since the carbon tax was introduced, GHG from the electricity sector are down about 7,6 per cent, or the equivalent of about 14.8 million tonnes.

Pollution from transportation, not covered by the carbon tax, has been rising steadily, while emissions from coalmine expansion and new gas plants have been soaring. The latter two sources are only partially covered by the carbon tax, now at $24.15 per tonne, with offsets or free permits reducing the cost to polluters.

“Significant decreases in the electricity sector emissions have been neutralised by increasing fugitive emissions because of the Abbott government’s open slather rush to support the dangerous coal seam gas industry and coal mines,” Greens leader Christine Milne. ‘‘Reducing free permits and ending fossil fuel subsidies to coal and gas would help to drive down emissions, but the Abbott government is keen to maintain the culture of entitlement in those industries,’’ she said.

On the other hand, Frank Jotzo, an associate professor at Australian National University’s Crawford School of Public Policy, said that while the electricity sector is seeing the largest impact of the carbon prices, the impact is not as big as it would be if businesses believed that the carbon price was here to stay. “To stop increasing emissions in transport and extractive industries like LNG would require a carbon price much, much higher than what is currently in place,” he said.

Despite all these statements, the Abbott government has vowed to repeal the carbon tax, which Labor and Greens have foiled so far by using their majority in the Senate to reject the move.

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