$3.5 billion Climate Solutions Fund offers no ‘solutions’ to rising emissions
Green groups have slammed the government’s $3.5 billion Climate Solutions Fund, saying it does nothing to curb rising greenhouse emissions.
The criticism comes after Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced a $2 billion extension of Tony Abbot’s Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF) this week.
The ERF, introduced in 2014 after the repeal of Labor’s carbon tax, provides incentives for Australian businesses to reduce greenhouse gases and earn carbon credits. Currently, the scheme is the central pillar of the government’s emissions reduction target of 26% by 2030. So far, it has secured 193 million tonnes of pollution reduction at an average cost of $12 per tonne.
Since 2014, taxpayers have spent $2.55 billion to help businesses reduce pollution under the original ERF.
New climate solutions fund ignores energy generation
The Clean Energy Council has derided the climate fund package for ignoring the nation’s highest emitters – energy generators.
“This new fund will not apply to the energy generation sector,” said CEC chief Kane Thornton.
“This means that the momentum created by $20 billion of private investment in large-scale renewable energy being built behind the Renewable Energy Target is now at risk.”
The government should instead focus on delivering a zero-emissions electricity sector and a 50% renewable energy target by 2030. In addition, Australia needs long term, effective strategies on energy, said Thornton.
The CEC recently outlined a series of policy recommendations ahead of May’s Federal election.
Climate package could actually fund fossil fuel projects
The Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) welcomed some aspects of the climate fund announcement, such as a national electric vehicle strategy and energy efficiency.
But it says there are serious problems surrounding the effectiveness of the ERF that a new name won’t fix.
According to the ACF’s Gavan McFadzean, the policy contains nothing about the energy sector, transport, agriculture, or major industry. Therefore, it contains “nothing about cutting pollution from the most polluting parts of our economy”.
Indeed, the ACF has revealed coal and gas-fired power plants successfully registered under the ERF to pay for equipment upgrades.
Mining giant Gold Fields is receiving ERF cash to build a gas-fired facility at its Granny Smith mine in Western Australia. The company has received $126,000 and expects to get about $1 million over seven years. Gold Fields concedes it would have built the plant anyway.
Vales Point, one of Australia’s oldest and dirtiest coal plants, also successfully applied, and won, for a registered project under the scheme.