Early evidence that the carbon tax works

From David Uren at The Australian:

CARBON emissions from the electricity sector have dived in the first six months under the carbon tax, with much greater use of renewable energy and cutbacks in consumption.

…Total emissions from the electricity sector in the December half were 7.5 million tonnes lower than in the same half of 2011.

…Analysis by Climate Change Minister Greg Combet’s staff shows that total electricity production in the first half of the financial year fell by 2.7 per cent, compared with the corresponding period of 2011-12.

…However, the analysis shows there has also been a big change in the mix of power, with much greater use of renewable energy from hydroelectricity from the Snowy Mountains and Tasmania, and also wind farms, while there have been cuts in use of both black and brown coal…there have been huge falls in electricity generation in both Victoria, down 8.6 per cent, and NSW, down 5.3 per cent. With changes in the energy mix, emissions in Victoria dropped 14.6 per cent while they were 10.4 per cent lower in NSW.

David Uren goes on to argue that there are some one-off items that may have contributed as well: the decline in manufacturing in Victoria, and floods at Yallorn. The success of the tax has also knocked $300 million out of the budget, according to the article.

Deniers eat crow!

Comments

  1. Global warming, wait climate change is a global issue.

    Growth in China’s emissions in one year will surpass Australia’s total out put.

    It doesn’t matter even if Australia gets its emissions to 0. It will have no difference overall.

    Logic is not prevailing….

    • It’s the appearance that counts. We must be seen to be doing something constructive, to influence moron-infested countries like the US.

      But Lorax is right. The elephant in the room is coal exportation.

      • Yeah no worries. We can just continue to live this over-privileged over-indulgent lifestyle in our capital cities without any industries.
        Yeah we don’t need exports…hell ban the coal industry, abandon anywhere west of Penrith in one final crescendo of rooting farmers. We can just borrow or in the case of the more fanciful print whatever money we need forever.

      • Make a choice:

        1) Export coal now and live high on the hog’s back for a another decade or two, then watch all hell break loose, and it cannot be stopped or fixed;

        2) Think long term, for example about your grand children, and leave the CO2 in the ground.

  2. Electricity consumption is very volatile and weather dependent. Using one month to “prove” something only proves that that there is nothing to e proven. For example, Sydney recorded only 3 days with temperature over 30C and no day over 35C in December.

    Why we don’t wait for hot January data and than make “conclusion” that carbon tax is not working.

    It will take few years worth of data to make any decent assessment whether carbon tax is working or not.

    • What tha?

      They’ve used 6 months of data. Not surprising since we’ve had 6 full months of carbon pricing. The comparison is H2 2012 to H2 2011.

      Demand reductions (unrelated to carbon) over that time are unprecedented in over 50 years. Smelters and other manufacturing have been closing and households have continued to reduce consumption.

      The carbon reductions are mostly driven by the reduction in aggregate demand – 2.5% x 190,000 GWh x 0.95 carbon intensity is roughly 4.5mt. The second major contributor is due to the flooding of Yallourn Power Station brown coal mine and significant reduction in carbon intensive output there. Third factor is high levels of water at Snowy and HydroTas (due to last two years of high rainfall and those businesses banking that water until carbon started) and relatively windy conditions leading to higher wind output. Fourth impact is some minor fuel switching from marginal coal (like Playford/Collinsville/Wallerawang Power Station) to gas fired plant due to carbon pricing.

      • As an aside….anyone seen the aggressive Momentum retail electricity pricing? That company is owned by HydroTas, a state owned company. They are funding their discounts (which are basically zero or even negative margin) with the windfall gains they make under carbon pricing being the largest zero intensity generator in the country.

        So the good people of Tasmania are effectively funding retail price discounts for households on the mainland and paying much higher prices for their own electricity to boot. HydroTas was instrumental in linking Tasmania to the mainland market, had that not happened Tassie would be the only state without any price rises due to carbon.

    • Completely agree with that sentiment 3d. “Analysis by Climate Change Minister Greg Combet’s staff”?? Really?!? And some folks eagerly leaping to believe it?

      Oh dear.

      If only these same folks took the time to investigate the government’s own RIS and auditor-general’s reports on how “emissions” are being measured and reported. It’s a complete farce, and little more than a propaganda exercise. From the Clean Energy Future RIS –

      7.4 Ensuring compliance with reporting requirements

      Under the proposed reporting requirements liable entities will report on their own emissions. As they will also have to acquire (buy) permits to cover these emissions, they will have an incentive to underreport their emissions.

      Errors in reporting would also have significant implications for the credibility of the scheme. If there was a perception of widespread non-compliance, community support for the scheme would be much harder to maintain (in the absence of community acceptance and support, the long term future of the scheme could be called into question).

      …it is important to note that, in considering impacts on the credibility of the scheme, perceptions of non-compliance can be more important than the actual level of non-compliance.16

      [On problems associated with cost of compliance to business, and the RIS assessment of 3 options for lowering those costs] –

      The benefits associated with the third (hybrid) option are lower than under the full third party assurance option as only a subset of emissions reports are assured. However, the benefits are not likely to be significantly lower. The majority of emissions are accounted for by very large emitters (over the 125 kt CO2-e/year threshold). As a result, assuring the accuracy of these emissions will ensure that overall emissions data are largely correct [ROFLMAO]. Moreover, the very large emitters are likely to be the most ‘visible’ and ensuring the accuracy of these reports should provide confidence in the accuracy of emissions data for the majority of stakeholders. Any concerns with the accuracy of reports by smaller emitters can be alleviated (to a degree) by additional assurance activities undertaken by the regulator.

      On balance, it is considered that the hybrid option represents the best balance of risks to scheme credibility and compliance costs for reporting entities and is the preferred option.

      *End Quote*

      So, emissions are self-reported. The auditing process for those reports is deliberately flawed, to keep costs of compliance down. And the clear focus of the whole thing is about “perceptions” and “public confidence” in the credibility of the scheme. Not on whether it actually IS credible.

  3. All throughout my surrounding suburbs roofs are covered in solar panels – that does make a huge difference and now it’s showing in the data.

    • Yes, panels are mentioned however I think industry (particularly smelters) are massive consumers probably even when compared to entire suburbs!

    • Diogenes the CynicMEMBER

      Solar panels obviously produce electricity, some of which is consumed at source and would reduce the need to burn more coal. Less obviously once people get solar panels they experience “energy awareness” and start working out how to reduce their consumption to maximise any benefits from the feed-in-tariffs. This is helped by the very high nominal increases in electricity prices which drives not only changes in consumer behaviour but the substitution of energy guzzlers for energy efficient appliances. The five groups who installed solar panels in my related family have reduced consumption by 30-80%.

      • Not if you have a Newman style FIT where your marginal price for net production is 1/3 of the marginal price for net consumption. That’s an incentive to increase consumption locally and during peak hours. Mind you I haven’t met anyone who is on the new FIT rates. Is there anyone?

  4. THE forecast expansion of Australian coal mining and exports would be the world’s second largest contributor of new carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels if fully realised, research by Greenpeace International has found.

    An analysis of the planet’s 14 largest proposed, coal, oil and gas developments – to be released on Wednesday by Greenpeace – finds if Australian coal production expands as projected, the mining, production and burning of the extra resource would, by 2020, result in 759 million tonnes of new global carbon dioxide emissions a year over 2011 levels.

    But emissions from Australian coal growth would be eclipsed by proposed coal production in western China, projected to result in 1400 million tonnes of annual CO2 emissions by 2020.

    Greenpeace says development of the 14 fossil fuel projects would put significant pressure on the world’s ability to meet a target, agreed to by nations through the United Nations, to limit global warming to a global average of two degrees.
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    ”Burning the coal, oil and gas from these 14 projects would significantly push emissions over what climate scientists have identified as the ‘carbon budget’, the amount of additional CO2 that must not be exceeded if we are to keep climate change from spiralling out of control,” the report says.

    Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/environment/on-its-way-from-australia–even-worse-carbon-emissions-20130122-2d58o.html#ixzz2IkaG5FmE

    Be nice to see an article on this, DLS!

      • Why 2d? The cognitive dissonance too much for you?

        The figurative titanic (earth) is pointed towards a large iceberg (human extinction) and you want to thrown more literal coal into the fire so that we have a fatal impact of even more devastating dimensions. Is there any serious consequence of the mining industry you won’t defend or deflect on behalf of Sheila Whinehard™ & co?

        Well done sir. An Order of Australia surely awaits you this coming Saturday…

    • “Research” by Greenpeace is in the same category as “analysis” by Greg Combet’s staff.

      • Which ones? Greenpeace or Combet’s staff? My point is not that the figures are necessarily incorrect – what the Greenpeace research and Combet’s analysis have in common is that they use figures selectively and interpret them in a way that meets their political agenda. This is not what was traditionally meant by “research”.

        But I would point out that the SMH article contains the huge caveat ” if Australian coal production expands as projected”. Big if, at this stage. Particularly when coal use in Australia is declining, as highlighted in the main article here.

  5. Jumping jack flash

    Price goes up, demand goes down. Production goes down. Less coal burned.

    Remarkable really.

    The next step is of course, retail tariffs soar to keep shareholders happy; profits constant and growth maintained.
    Feed-in tariffs static or falling.

    Is there actually any incentive to install solar panels any more based on ROI?

    A few here at work have installed solar panels only to discover that their bills are simply the same as what they were paying 12-24 months ago.

    It isn’t like feed in tariffs are going to increase significantly, and it isn’t like retail tariffs are going to reduce significantly so what’s the point? A couple of hundred dollars saved each quarter for thousands of dollars outlay and a (peak) operational life of 10-15 years? Doesn’t make a great deal of sense.

    But you gotta have faith, brother.

  6. On the weekend I heard ‘management of greenhouse gas emissions’ described as the great Prisoner’s Dilemma. No country’s action, on its own, will influence outcome.

    In The Balance
    The quest for energy security
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01361j8

    Interviewees:
    BP’s chief economist – Christof Ruhl,
    Chief energy analyst at pan-African bank Ecobank – Rolake Akinkugbe
    Associate Fellow: Energy, Environment and Resources at Chatham House – Malcolm Grimston

    All three speakers have concern for the future of the environment, and are relatively unconcerned about availability of resources. (And all seem to agree that the ONLY thing that produces meaningful change to behaviour/consumption – in anything – is price.
    (Start at ~ 20:00 to hear this part of discussion)

    Malcolm Grimston (25:17)

    It seems to me actually climate change is probably the great Prisoner’s Dilemma of our time, … the reason you get innovative in energy is if you don’t get your domestic energy right you pay the price for not getting that right. You can get your own domestic climate change policy right but unless the rest of the world is doing the same it doesn’t do you any benefit at all. So it’s actually probably always in any country’s interest, whatever the rest of the world is doing, not to spend a lot of money on reducing it’s carbon emissions, and I think that’s the crisis we’ve reached. We’ve had twenty years of trying to find institutional ways of reducing greenhouse gas emissions with total and abject failure and frankly I don’t see what could possibly change that would make that different. So that’s where my real fears are, not on the resource front.

    • Good point 49er. I recommend you read the following article in full.

      http://theautomaticearth.com/Earth/quote-of-the-year-and-the-next.html

      Here is a few choice quotes incomprehensible to those bots aligned with the Minerals Council of Australia on this thread (they know who they are):

      “You see, there are two kinds of big problems. One I call universal problems, the other I call global problems. They both affect everybody. The difference is: Universal problems can be solved by small groups of people because they don’t have to wait for others. You can clean up the air in Hanover without having to wait for Beijing or Mexico City to do the same.

      Global problems, however, cannot be solved in a single place. There’s no way Hanover can solve climate change or stop the spread of nuclear weapons. For that to happen, people in China, the US and Russia must also do something. But on the global problems, we will make no progress.

      The more we look at this, the more we find we look just like the reindeer on Matthew Island, the bacteria in the petri dish, and the yeast in the wine vat. We burn through all surplus energy as fast as we can find ways to burn it. The main difference, the one that makes us tragic, is that we can see ourselves do it, not that we can stop ourselves from doing it.

      Nope, we’ll burn through it all if we can (but we can’t ’cause we’ll suffocate in our own waste first). And if we’re lucky (though that’s a point of contention) we’ll be left alive to be picking up the pieces when we’re done.

      We evolve the way Stephen Jay Gould described evolution: through punctuated equilibrium. That is, we pass through bottlenecks, forced upon us by the circumstances of nature, only in the case of the present global issues we are nature itself. And there’s nothing we can do about it. If we don’t manage to understand this dynamic, and very soon, those bottlenecks will become awfully narrow passages, with room for ever fewer of us to pass through.

      As individuals we need to drastically reduce our dependence on the runaway big systems, banking, the grid, transport etc., that we ourselves built like so many sorcerers apprentices, because as societies we can’t fix the runaway problems with those systems, and they are certain to drag us down with them if we let them.

  7. Grrrrrr …..

    On the weekend I heard management of greenhouse gas emissions described as the great Prisoner’s Dilemma. No country’s action, on its own, will influence outcome.

    In The Balance
    The quest for energy security
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01361j8

    Interviewees:
    BP’s chief economist – Christof Ruhl,
    Chief energy analyst at pan-African bank Ecobank – Rolake Akinkugbe
    Associate Fellow: Energy, Environment and Resources at Chatham House – Malcolm Grimston

    All three speakers have concern for the future of the environment, and are relatively unconcerned about availability of resources. (And all seem to agree that the ONLY thing that produces meaningful change to behaviour/consumption – in anything – is price.
    (Start at ~ 20:00 to hear this part of discussion)

    Malcolm Grimston 25:17):
    “It seems to me actually climate change is probably the great Prisoner’s Dilemma of our time, … the reason you get innovative in energy is if you don’t get your domestic energy right you pay the price for not getting that right. You can get your own domestic climate change policy right but unless the rest of the world is doing the same it doesn’t do you any benefit at all. So it’s actually probably always in any country’s interest, whatever the rest of the world is doing, not to spend a lot of money on reducing it’s carbon emissions, and I think that’s the crisis we’ve reached. We’ve had twenty years of trying to find institutional ways of reducing greenhouse gas emissions with total and abject failure and frankly I don’t see what could possibly change that would make that different. So that’s where my real fears are, not on the resource front.”

  8. There are a couple of concerns in this.

    1) What is the actual shipping data for the coal power stations? Ie, number of coal trucks arriving on site? Has that declined? We can only assume yes. I worry that “measurements” of carbon emissions can be faked. What’s harder to fake is the input.

    2) The snowy hydro usage. Are we using valuable water/energy because it’s there and cheap? Is it sustainable over the longer term? If it’s not, are we setting ourselves up for disaster during the next drought?

  9. Cheap power is the one of few competitive advantages Australia can hope to have in manufacturing.

    Why would we give it up for nothing but an immeasurably small reduction in global temperatures?

    I guess we’ll get browny points from mother Gaia.

    • Cheap power is the one of few competitive advantages Australia can hope to have in manufacturing.
      Can we make our power cheaper than China ? Africa ? Even the USA ? I struggle to see how.

      (And this is before even getting to the wage advantage those countries have.)

      Why would we give it up for nothing but an immeasurably small reduction in global temperatures?

      Same reason we give up gross exploitation of labour for not even that much benefit.

      • Pretty sure the person I responded too wasn’t talking about huge investments in PV solar or nuclear. 🙂

      • “Can we make our power cheaper than China ? Africa ? Even the USA ? I struggle to see how.”

        Almost no labour is employed in running of power stations. The costs of producing electricity are driven by the costs of the inputs.

        Australia has supplies of lost cost fossil fuels (e.g. coal, lng) that can be delivered to Australian power stations cheaply.

  10. Ffs. Coal is ok, uranium aint? Really. (marginally) i believe a carbon tax/ets can onlyimprove how the world operates. I get that the finance crowd get a fatter pocket. I get the argument that it has a negative effect on the economy. But fuck you three dicks, youre so intelligent, up to the point where you dont give a shit about the poison that we dig up and export. Disclaimer, i have enjoyed the benefits of our resources and know how hypocritical this all is. Back to my subsistence life, staring at my ipad.