21 July 2015, The Conversation, One year on from the carbon price experiment, the rebound in emissions is clear: Just over a year ago, Australia concluded a unique public policy experiment. For the preceding two years and two weeks, it had put a price on a range of greenhouse gas emitting activities, most significantly power generation. Now, 12 months since the price was removed, is a good time to assess the results of the experiment. The immediate effect of the carbon price was to increase the costs faced by most electricity generators, by an amount that varied between individual power stations depending on that station’s emissions intensity (the emissions per unit of electricity). These costs were then passed on in higher prices to consumers.
Simple economics suggests that two effects should have followed. First, less emissions-intensive generators should have been able to increase their market share, resulting in an overall reduction in the average emissions intensity of electricity. Second, higher prices should have led consumers to reduce their consumption, cutting the total demand for electricity. When the price was removed, both of these effects should have been reversed. Let’s look at what happened in the National Electricity Market (NEM), which is the wholesale electricity market in every state and territory except Western Australia and the Northern Territory.
My analysis, using detailed NEM operational data from the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) finds that emissions intensity, which was increasing until shortly before June 2012, fell continuously (see graph below) for most of the two years to June 2014. Since then, it has increased consistently. All these changes were caused by changes in the market shares the different types of generation, just as expected. Read More here