Australian carbon tax worked – until it was abolished

Data released by the Australian Department of the Environment shows that Australia experienced the largest emissions drop in a decade after the 2012 carbon tax kicked in. That tax has since been scrapped by the Abbott government.

As The Guardian reports, the country’s greenhouse gas emissions dropped by 1.4 per cent in the second full year of the carbon price. Government data shows it was the largest recorded annual decrease in the past decade.

Emissions from the electricity sector – the industry most affected by the carbon tax – fell by 4 per cent in the year to June. Emissions from other sectors also dropped: transport by 0.4 per cent, agriculture by 2.6 per cent and industrial processes by 1.3 per cent.

The period recorded includes the second 12 months of the carbon pricing system, which was introduced by the Labor party in 2012. But that tax was abolished by the Abbott government in July.

For the Greens party and conservation groups alike, the figures show that the carbon price was effective. Greens leader, Christine Milne, is quoted by The Guardian as saying: “The Abbott government will go down in history as taking the biggest backward step in tackling global warming Australia has ever seen.”

Meanwhile, Victoria McKenzie-McHarg, the climate change program manager at the Australian Conservation Foundation, is highly critical of the Abbott government’s emissions reduction fund – introduced as an alternative to the carbon tax – that will provide voluntary grants to businesses that want to reduce their emissions. Accusing it of taking money from taxpayers and giving it to polluters, she argues that it “reverses the longstanding principle of polluter pays, which sets a dangerous and expensive precedent.”


Photo credit: Takver, flickr/Creative Commons

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