The dramatic drop in greenhouse gas emissions was partially due to the implementation of the carbon tax, says the Greens and other environmental conservation groups. The statement strongly reflects the effectiveness that the carbon pricing system had, prior to being scrapped by the Abbott government in 2014.
Records show that Australia’s emissions fell 1.4% in the second year of the carbon tax implementation. This is the largest recorded annual drop in the past 10 years.
Data coming from the Department of the Environment revealed that greenhouse gas emissions in June rose 0.4%. However, the annual emissions suggest that for the first half of 2014 fell 1.4%.
Greenhouse gas emissions up 0.4% with cuts
This particular period includes the second 12 months when the carbon pricing system took effect. Carbon tax was introduced by the previous federal administration in 2012. The recent move of the government that abolished the carbon tax in July was the fulfillment of the election promise made by the Coalition.
This present administration doesn’t seem to be aware or is ignoring the fact that emission reduction grew faster during the two-year period of carbon pricing. Emissions during this period edged down by 0.8% during the first 12 months of the carbon tax.
The current inventory of greenhouse gas shows that the electricity sector’s emission fell by 4% up to June. This sector is the most affected by the system.
Electricity sector main contributor of greenhouse gas emissions
One third of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions are produced by the electricity sector. Its total greenhouse gas emission is believed to be 542.6 million tons up to June. In the previous 12 months the figure is around 550.2 million tons.
Likewise, gas emissions from the transport sector dropped by 0.4% up to June. Gasses emitted by the agriculture industry also fell by 2.6%. So is with the other industries in the country. Industrial plants released 1.3% less emissions than what they did previously. However, rogue sectors like mining saw their emissions rose by 5.1%
Emissions by the electricity sector were at their highest in 2008, but have since steadily decreased. This is due to several factors, such as the energy efficient initiatives and the eventual winding down of parts in the country’s manufacturing base.
Carbon tax caused biggest reduction of greenhouse gas emissions
“We’ve never seen a decrease like this,” says Victoria McKenzie-McHarg, climate change program manager of the Australian Conservation Foundation. “Yes, there was a lot else happening in this time, but it is an indication that the policy was working,” she adds.
“The price did better than expected. Also, we would have seen deeper cuts in emissions over time as the price created a long-term economic signal and changed investment in energy. We never expected to see the biggest reductions straight away,” she explains.
Her sentiment was corroborated by another environment conservationist. “These figures demonstrate to the rest of the world just how effective our carbon price was at bringing down pollution,” says Christine Milne, head of the Greens.
“This is the biggest ever drop recorded and the price made it happen,” she adds. “The Abbott government will go down in history as taking the biggest backward step in tackling global warming Australia has ever seen,” she concludes.