Budget a great leap back for climate action, cleaner economy Media Release

May 13, 2014 - 8:25pm

 The Abbott Government’s first budget returns entitlements to big polluters to pollute for free, shifting the burden of reducing emissions to taxpayers while slashing key climate and clean energy programs and independent agencies, prompting The Climate Institute to dub it the “Backwards Budget”.   

“When it comes to climate action and a cleaner economy, this is a backwards budget,” said John Connor, CEO, The Climate Institute. “It’s an attempt to undo the good progress Australia has made recently in cutting carbon pollution, growing renewable energy jobs and taking advantage of our abundant solar, wind and other renewable resources.”

“The biggest backward step is the intended repeal of the carbon laws. This would give polluters a free pass on their pollution, and costs the Government over $12.5 billion of carbon revenue over the forward estimates.”  

“Taxpayers are then to fork out over $2.5 billion for the Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF) to buy pollution reductions.  All this while the Government works out if or how it will ensure reductions from big polluters.”  

“Taxpayers are being asked to buy an at best half formed carbon pollution policy from Government, and bin a credible alternative.” 

Last month The Climate Institute released research showing that by 2020, the cost to the Federal Budget of the ERF and the loss of carbon revenue could total $24 billion – without even achieving Australia’s minimum 5 per cent emission reduction target. Achieving the target would increase the cost to around $40 billion.  

“Meanwhile the Government is defunding valuable programs and dismantling independent agencies that were designed to take the worst of politics out of climate and clean energy decisions,” said Connor. 

“The Government has reversed its pre-election support for the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), which is being axed. Removing the Climate Change Authority and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation as well reveals an opposition to independent expert advice and investment on climate and clean energy. But these changes still need Senate support.”

Other key elements in the Backward Budget include: 

  • Broken promises with no “One Million Solar Roofs program” (was to be $50 million per year) or support for Solar Schools. But there is an inclusion for seven Solar Towns with $2.1 million over four years.
  • M aintenance of the diesel fuel rebate for miners, a lost opportunity worth over $8 billion.
  • $20 million cut to science funding through combination of National Environment Research and Climate Science programs.
  • Maintenance of the promise of $9 million to the National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility. 

“The return of indexation of fuel excise is welcome and will encourage some pollution reduction. But it’s unfair that motorists are to pay more while miners’ fuel subsidies remain. And its billions of revenue should support more, not less, investment in public transport. Building more roads will just increase costly car dependency.” 

“With very few exceptions, this is a budget that is a gamble on the Government’s at best half formed carbon pollution policy. It’s a budget that shifts the burden from polluters to taxpayers. It’s a backwards budget,” concluded Connor.

For more information
Kristina Stefanova, Communications Director, The Climate Institute, 02 8239 6299 

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