Electricity emissions fall due to carbon tax, cost of RET estimated at $15 per year  

Figures released last week by the government in their quarterly National Greenhouse Gas Inventory show that while the overall figures for emissions have increased by 1.2%, the electricity sector emissions fell 7.6% since the carbon tax was introduced in July 2012.

The carbon price of $23 per tonne, uptake of renewable energies including solar power, energy efficiency measures and falling electricity usage associated with a drop-off in Australian manufacturing have been attributed to the decrease in emissions. Environment Minister Greg Hunt hedged his bets attributing the drop in emissions to the Renewable Energy Target, but suggested the decrease was only minor.

Greens leader Christine Milne suggested Mr Hunt was being selective with his figures, and accused the government of favouring the electricity sector and gas industry. ‘‘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, echoing Treasurer Joe Hockey’s recent rhetoric.

Industry watchers at RenewEconomy fear the scrapping of the carbon tax and dilution of the RET are a fait accompli, making Australia the only country to “row backwards” on their renewable energy targets. According to the most recent review of the RET (December 2012), abolishing it would only save tax payers around $15 per household over the next twenty years.

Figures such as “$15 per household” and the projection that the RET will result in closer to 26% emission reduction go against the grain of the government’s current momentum, so it’s reasonable to assume that an updated review cannot come quick enough.

Further polluting their position was a statement from Greg Hunt’s office attempting to slam the carbon tax saying: “Emissions figures released today show the Carbon Tax is still inflicting plenty of gain, with no environmental pain”. Transposing pain and gain is a simple mistake that his spokesperson has accepted responsibility for, but with rumors that Mr Hunt is a vocal supporter of the RET we can only speculate how accidental the slip was.