After repealing a tax on carbon emissions in July, emissions have skyrocketed in the past 100 days, Vox reports. The Carbon tax was initially passed in 2011 and enacted in 2012, but the measure was incredibly unpopular amongst voters.
However, the effects of the tax were immediate, as Australian power companies immediately began to decrease coal production in favor of more hydroelectric power generation. In fact, the switch was so rapid and dramatic that Mike Sandiford of the University of Melbourne, who first reported the carbon increase, described the shift to hydroelectric power as “unsustainable.”
The tax, which according to Vox charged approximately $23 per ton of carbon, caused carbon emissions to drop by nine percent in the first six months of its enactment. However, following the tax’s repeal, carbon emissions are now expected to rise by nine percent before the end of this year. As Sandiford notes, “In effect we will have just about zeroed out the emissions reductions achieved over the last few years.”
The tax was repealed by the Australian Senate in a 39-32 vote this July. Australia is one of the world’s largest producers of coal and home to the largest coal port in the world, which was the target of a blockade protest last month.
Despite the repeal, Australia maintains that it is still committed to its 2020 goal of reducing carbon emissions by 5 percent (from its 2000 levels).