Australia’s renewable energy industry has accused the federal Coalition government of yet another raid on existing renewable energy funding, after the release of the party’s latest policy proposal for a green cities fund.
The proposed Sustainable Cities Investment Fund, unveiled by Malcolm Turnbull on Monday, would re-purpose up to $100 million a year of money from the Clean Energy Finance Corporation – and be administered by the CEFC – to boost the use of renewable energy and clean technology in Australia’s major cities.
The aim of the scheme would be to stimulate private sector investment in projects like renewable energy plants and installations, improved transport management systems and the retrofitting of public housing estates to make them more energy efficient. To qualify for investment, the projects would have to demonstrate value for money and deliver a financial return.
But industry and green groups say the move constitutes the third such “redirection” of CEFC funding, with $1 billion withdrawn for a loan scheme, and another $1 billion to fund the Great Barrier Reef.
Effectively, nearly one third of the supposed independent CEFC’s budget has been corralled by the government for “pet projects’ announced during and in the lead up to the election campaign.
In a statement released on Monday, the Australian Solar Council described the policy as yet another “attack” on existing renewables funding, and a continuation of the Coalition’s track record of “contempt” for renewable energy.
“The Turnbull government is again showing utter hypocrisy by raiding the Clean Energy Finance Corporation for its latest election stunt,” said ASC chief John Grimes.
“This government has twice tried to axe the Clean Energy Finance Corporation. It’s tried to axe the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), it’s taken the axe to the Renewable Energy Target and now it plans to slash $1.3 billion from ARENA.
“Today’s announcement is not new money. It is simply using the Clean Energy Finance Corporation as its slush fund,” Grimes said.
“For the first time in the Australian Solar Council’s 50-year history, we are calling on voters to put the Liberal Party last.”
Green group the Australian Youth Climate Coalition has also criticised the new policy, describing it as “rebranding,” used to cover up a lack of ambition on global warming.
“This is the third time the Prime Minister has re-announced clean energy money that has existed since 2013 and the Coalition spent most of their time in government trying to cut,” said AYCC national director, Kirsty Albion in a statement on Monday.
“The government is still not telling Australians its renewable energy goal for 2030 and is taking Tony Abbott’s low pollution reduction targets to the election.
“We’re seeing the impacts of dangerous global warming right now with bleaching across the Great Barrier Reef. Voters, especially young people … (want) to see action this election but Mr Turnbull is leaving us disappointed,” Albion said.
“We need real climate action, not rebranding.”