Has the carbon tax cut emissions?

The Greens claim the carbon tax has reduced emissions by over 8 per cent since it came into effect.
The most recent government figures do show that for the first half of 2013 emissions in sectors covered by the carbon tax were down 1 per cent, mainly due to a 7.2 per cent decrease in electricity emissions. However several separate analyses of the carbon tax concur that lower electricity emissions are a result of falling demand and increases in renewable energy not produced by the carbon price.

Falling demand has caused 5 per cent of the 7 per cent drop in electricity emissions. This is due to manufacturing closures like the Kurri Kurri aluminium smelter, and the increase in rooftop solar PV which now supplies 1.6 per cent of electricity.

The Climate institute, which supports the carbon tax, admits that, “Structural changes driven by the high Australian dollar, rising electricity prices, introduction of energy efficiency measures, increased home installations of solar photovoltaic (PV), and the Renewable Energy Target are key drivers”.
At best it claims that the carbon tax has played a “supporting role”. But it also says that the, “impact of the carbon price on particular prices is barely discernible”—in which case it’s not clear how the tax could be having any impact.

As campaign group Beyond Zero Emissions says, “Whatever the future may hold for the carbon price, the real heroes are…renewable energy—supported in particular by the Renewable Energy Target (RET)—and energy efficiency.”

Official government modelling showed it would allow emissions to increase until 2030 and only achieve its claimed reduction target through the use of offsets. The carbon tax is useless for reducing emissions.

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