rss
18

Turnbull’s first budget ignores climate change, dumps clean energy

Print Friendly

Climate change, prime minister Malcom Turnbull once said, is the ultimate long-term problem that needs to be acted on urgently. But in his first budget as government leader, it is as though the issue does not exist.

turnbull budgetClimate change was not even mentioned as a word, or a concept, or even an issue – despite Tuesday’s budget apparently being about growth and jobs for the future. There was no new money for climate initiatives and the only mention renewable energy got was to confirm that $1.3 billion in funds would be stripped from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency.

“There was nothing in the speech, not a word,” Professor John Hewson, a former leader of Liberal Party, told the SolarExpo conference in 2016.

“The slogan is jobs and growth. I would have though that one of the most significant sectors for economic and jobs growth is renewables – I am staggered that it didn’t get a mention in the speech or in the documents.” Hewson said the decision to remove funding from ARENA was an “absolute tragedy.”

In the budget papers, for instance, there is no extra funding for the Direct Action plan that Turnbull once ridiculed and dismissed as a “fig-leaf” for a climate policy and now forms the basis of the government’s emissions reductions plan, including the Paris agreement it signed just a few weeks ago.

Once the government has spent the current $2.5 billion allocation for handouts to polluters to do pretty much what they were doing anyway, there is zero extra funding for emissions abatement.

The Coalition government might have been expected to shift towards a “modified” scheme that would see Direct Action evolve with its safeguards mechanism to become a baseline and credit scheme. But that’s what Labor suggested last week, and rather than accept the tentative offer of a return to a bipartisan approach to climate policies, the government slammed the door.

It slammed the door, too, on renewable energy innovation. The $1.3 billion of unallocated funds for the Australian Renewable Energy Agency remains excised from the budget papers – even though it remains legislated – while $1 billion is transferred from the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and rebadged as a new Clean Energy Innovation Fund.

Don’t expect Labor to stand in the way of that initiative. It voted with the Coalition earlier this week against a Greens motion to protect ARENA, and has since blamed NGOs for not standing up to the Coalition move to de-fund ARENA, so it won’t stand up either.

For his part, Australian Solar Council chief John Grimes was taking a stand on the matter, telling the Energy Storage Conference in Melbourne on Wednesday that the federal government had “taken a backwards step” in defunding ARENA, and not making the Agency’s competitive grants available any more.

“So they’ll only invest (in clean energy technology) on an equity or …a loan basis, which means that any money that’s given from the government has to be repaid with interest, and there has to be strong independent commercial case… and a risk mitigation.

“A lot of the blue sky research, the first research we might see out of somewhere like the CSIRO… you can’t make a commercial case to say, well lend me $1.5 million I’ll pay you back $2 million in three years (or) five years time.

“It just doesn’t work that way,” he said.

The Climate Institute was also critical of the budget, saying it “ignores the fact that if we do not invest in strong, effective action to reduce emissions now, it will simply cost us much more in the not too distant future.”

CEO John Connor said: “The consequences of ongoing failure to tackle climate change will be escalating energy, unemployment and other economic costs over the next few decades.”

“There’s no extra funding for the government’s current principal policy tool the $2.55bn Emission Reduction Fund now likely to be expended by the end of 2016 well before the policy review in 2017, threatening jobs and growth in the carbon farming and other emission reduction industries.”

He noted that support for climate adaptation research is to be slashed with no new money for CSIRO or the Bureau of Meteorology to fully redress CSIRO climate impact research cuts.

“Droughts, bushfires and the bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef are already major threats to jobs and growth, and weakening our knowledge base means we risk facing these threats blindfolded.”

He said the budget also contains no sign of extra climate finance commitments necessary to do our bit in assisting developing countries boost climate resilience and clean energy.

“We should be scaling up from the current $200 million annually to $1.5 billion by 2020 to help meet commitments made in Paris last year.

“Without a plan to end climate pollution with net zero emissions by 2050 the government doesn’t have a plan for the future let alone a plan for climate change.  This budget of delay is piling up the risks of shocks to electricity prices, energy security and the jobs that depend on both,” concluded Connor.

The Marine Conservation Society said the federal budget contains a mere $8.9 million a year year of new and additional funding over the next three years for the Reef. It noted that this compares with $7.7 billion a year for fossil fuel subsidies which have not been reduced in this Budget.


  

Share this:

  • Keith

    Why is the press not asking the LNP exactly what kind of jobs they are referring to? I think if they have to do that, then it is in the renewable energy industry that they will be found.

    • nakedChimp

      Which ‘press’?
      The ones that re-touts lines from the very same source that those policies come from?
      🙂

    • john

      Press asking questions in Australia?
      No sorry for a start no idea are not across the issue and beside Press i assume the main stream media as in Uncle Rupert’s media sorry we do not ask such questions because don’t know.

  • suthnsun

    Very upsetting reading this list of shortcomings, Nero comes to mind.. Thanks for diligently reporting.

  • DevMac

    A new article is needed to point out the details of the $7.7B fossil fuel subsidies in order to keep the issue current, especially with an election coming up. Give us details about how much it costs us, the companies and people it benefits, year-by-year breakdown in comparison to government debt etc.

    Given their accusations about how much renewable energy costs, why do they feel the need to subsidise fossil fuels? By the sounds of it they should be able to compete without Government help.

    This search provides a list of other articles on this issue:
    https://duckduckgo.com/?q=Australian+Government+fossil+fuel+subsidies
    We need a new look at it, asking questions of both sides of government as to their future plans regarding this environmental and economic rort.

  • howardpatr

    Expected no better from Cayman Turnbull and the Coalition but you don’t have to scratch far to find the shortcomings in the Labor policies.

  • John Saint-Smith

    The photograph confirms my worst fears. It shows Turnbull wearing the ‘pale blue flag of total surrender’ around his neck. Previously he’d sported a neutral yellow, allowing me to believe that there was a spark of independence…
    What will he do when he gets his own mandate? Declare renewables illegal immigrants?.

  • Brunel

    Punishes everyone who gets paid less than $80k/year.

  • Robert Comerford

    It is an election budget… what did you expect?
    The Australian voter has made it clear where their priorities lie.

  • john

    Because perhaps only .07% of the population are across the issues then why upset the apple cart let it ride.
    As soon as you start trying to explain expected outcomes and visible changes the eyes cloud over so the liberals and for that matter the labour party realize there is no return in pursuing this.
    Perhaps more than .07% say 25% it is still a small number and besides you can talk about the added benefits of the tax relief we are giving you just remember most who understand will be in the over $80 k a year tax area who we are helping bonus end of story self interest beats all.

    • Cooma Doug

      So what you are saying is that we wait till the reef is dead…no too early. Wait til the droughts are the worst by far…no too early..
      Wait til the world applies crippling ecconomic sanctions…no too early.
      How does it work? Im thinking we need a Green politician disguised as a Trump.

  • Mark Taylor

    There is a lot of talk about ‘value capture’ in this budget but it doesn’t seem to be applied to the flow on benefits of a pro-active clean energy program.
    Budget 2016 gets a D for Disappointing, Drab and Directionless.

    • Cooma Doug

      They should have not given the 6 dollars a week to the rich. They could have given everyone a new home phone. One of those old big black things modified to look like a coal power station.

  • Andrew Thaler

    equally there was no mention of the NBN in the budget either..

    • Cooma Doug

      They started talking about it one day and most were confused by the intrusion of a more relevant acronym. WTF.

  • Cooma Doug

    With a group of thinkers over a coffee one lady said, “I would definately vote Labor if they had some clarity on renewable investment”. The entire group response was that they would vote for the team that does.

  • Robert Comerford

    Forget about minor parties in the lower house, democracy becomes by its very nature a 2 party system.
    Labor needs to show in terms that cannot be refuted by the denialists and their media chums the economic advantages to a voters household budget of exiting from fossil fuel use. If that can’t be done then there is little hope of change.
    Many of the young idealists that voted for action by Kevin Rudd will now be concerned with mortgages and climbing the social ladder and now vote Liberal. If the hip pocket nerve is not tweaked effectively we will not be contributing to saving our life support system from major damage.