Environment group Friends of the Earth says big ticket items to tackle climate change and protect Victoria’s environment are the “missing piece of the puzzle” in budget 2018/19—a disappointing one for the environment.
The Andrews government’s allocation towards climate change and environment is down from last year’s budget–from $798 million in budget 2017/18 to $266 million this budget cycle.
“With climate change impacts becoming more and more obvious, it’s disappointing to see the Andrews government’s 2018 budget fail to deliver big ticket items for climate change and environmental protection,” said Leigh Ewbank, Friends of the Earth spokesperson.
“The community is looking to the Labor government to have vision when it comes to our environment—such as by establishing the Great Forest National Park and championing the rollout of renewable energy.”
Friends of the Earth say the downward trajectory of environment-related expenditure is a sign the budget process is failing to account for climate change:
“While the government in planning ahead when it comes to education, health, and infrastructure, it’s failing to plan ahead for the great challenge of our time—climate change,” said Leigh Ewbank.
Friends of the Earth is calling for the government to modernise the budget process to ensure climate change receives the attention it deserves:
“Victorians need a clearer picture of how government expenditure affects climate change, and how climate impacts affect the budget,” added Leigh Ewbank.
“Bringing greater transparency to climate change in the budget will allow for its impact on state finances to be understood and tracked over time. If we don’t track the costs of climate change, how can we plan for future impacts?”
Ratings agency Moody’s has warned states that fail to account for climate risk are exposed to credit downgrades. A ‘Climate Impact Statement’ to accompany the annual budget papers is a zero-cost measure the government can adopt for future budgets.
“No state treasurer wants to see Victoria’s credit rating downgraded on their watch. Tim Pallas and the Labor government can climate-proof the budget by modernising it,” said Leigh Ewbank of Friends of the Earth.
Momentum is building for Victoria’s first climate budget that makes a down payment on efforts to rein in emissions and protect the community from climate impacts:
“We’ve seen important issues such as tackling family violence, saving TAFE, and boosting mental health receive strategic investment in previous budgets.”
“With the Federal government failing to act on climate change, it’s time for the Labor government to make climate a priority in Victoria.”
Friends of the Earth say the government’s over-subscribed $4.8 million Climate Change Innovation Partnerships grant scheme demonstrates demand for support is outpacing the government’s budget allocations. Funding was only available for just ten percent of the projects.
“It’s simple: Victoria needs to see more state government investment in climate solutions or we will fail to rein in emissions and prepare our economy for climate change.”
Friends of the Earth are calling for political parties to commit to delivering Victoria’s first climate budget in the lead up to the state election in November.
Friends of the Earth Budget 2018/19 Analysis:
Forests & Parks:
- Parks Victoria will receive $70.6 million to manage the state’s parks network and bring on more rangers.
- “A budget increase for Parks Victoria is welcome, especially if it lays the groundwork for the establishment of the Great Forest National Park and Emerald Link Reserve in East Gippsland,” said Cam Walker, Friends of the Earth spokesperson.
Public Transport & Infrastructure:
- Budget 2018/19 allocates $4.3 billion towards roads and $1.9 billion towards improving public transport. Roads will receive more than twice as much funding as public transport.
- “Record investment in public transport will deliver for the community and environment, yet the gulf between historic investment in roads over public transport remains. Future budgets must aim correct this imbalance as quickly as possible,” said Rachel Lynskey, FoE Sustainable Cities spokesperson.
- Budget 2018/19 is light on the detail when it comes to the level of investment needed to bring new renewable energy capacity online to meet the Victorian Renewable Energy Targets (of 25% by 2020 and 40% by 2025).
- A reverse auction for 650 megawatts of new renewable energy capacity is now underway with additional auctions on the horizon.
- “Friends of the Earth championed the case for the Victorian Renewable Energy Target for five years. We’re looking forward to seeing the government announce the successful renewable energy projects in coming months and additional auctions” said Pat Simons, FoE renewables spokesperson.
- Budget 2018/19 allocates just $1 million towards the Victorian government meeting Emissions Reduction Targets (including interim targets for 2025 and 2030, as well as the legislated target of zero-net emissions by 2050).
- “A greater level of investment is needed to supercharge Victoria’s climate change response. We need to see a down payment towards a carbon-free economy,” said Leigh Ewbank, FoE climate change spokesperson.