A recent analysis about the National Electricity Market (NEM) reveals that greenhouse gas emissions will rise approximately 9% in 2014 to 2015. The report was authored by Mike Sandiford of the University Melbourne energy department.
Sandiford’s report indicated that compared to the emissions of 2013 to 2014, the expected emissions can reach as high as 10% which is the equivalent of around 14 million tons of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere.
Some studies have shown that since the time of the carbon price removal, emissions from the country’s electricity sector have increased dramatically with a record high predicted this financial year.
Carbon price removal a direct result of increased emissions
For several decades, the greenhouse gas emissions of Australia have been steadily climbing higher. However, in recent years, the country experienced small falls, including a 0.8% reduction in 2013. That was the largest annual emissions drop in 24 years.
The total emission reduction in the electricity sector over the two years since the implementation of the carbon price system was almost 11%, with an annual average of 5.36%.
Comparing this figure to the average yearly decline in the three years preceding the enforcement of the carbon tax, it is really an amazing feat to accomplish.
But some financial and environmental analysts believe that it is not all the work of the carbon tax. They believe that other factors such as the energy efficiency standards made a major difference, not just in cutting emissions, but also in saving the country more than $3 billion in 2013.
Carbon tax not the only option for a greener Australia
Ross Garnaut, a noted economist, says that enforcing a carbon tax, or having emissions trading systems are not the only methods that can reduce emissions. However, he admits that “the alternatives are more expensive, more difficult, and less certain to deliver good results”.
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The objection to the carbon price removal is made all the more valid because of the scope of The National Electricity Market which takes up approximately 80% of the country’s electricity consumption.
“To put it in historical context, this recent increase in emissions post carbon price removal is currently tracking at about 250% higher than the previous largest recorded increase,” wrote Sandiford in the academic blog The Conversation. “That was back in 2003-04 when emissions increased by a touch over 5m tons for the year,” he added.
Since carbon price removal, emissions increasing 250% higher than previous records
According to Sandiford, the increase was definitely connected to the carbon price removalwhich was initiated by the Coalition government. “The reason is straightforward,” he said.
“During the years of carbon pricing, hydro was being dispatched at unsustainable levels. Since repeal the reduction in hydro output has been substantially picked up by brown coal generators in Victoria,” Sandiford explained.
When NEM was using brown coal generator for energy supply augmentation, figures released by Pitt&Sherry show that their emissions were 1.3% higher in the months leading to September 2014, compared with the months leading to June 2014, prior to the carbon price removal.
This indicates that adding a brown coal generator in the mix will not help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but increase it instead.