Two Sides To Budget Coin: Funds For Clean Energy

Federal budget 2024-25 has allocated significant funding to help build a renewable-powered Australia, but it continues giving money to companies that are fuelling the climate crisis, while funding for nature protection remains inadequate.

“There are two sides to this budget coin,” said Australian Conservation Foundation CEO Kelly O’Shanassy.

“On one side the budget allocates significant funding to the ambitious Future Made in Australia plan which, if well-executed, will help build a manufacturing and export industry powered by clean renewable energy. This is crucial to solving the climate crisis.

“But on the other side of the budget coin, serious public money is still flowing to coal and gas, especially via the Fuel Tax Credit scheme and through funding for carbon capture and storage – technology designed to extend the use-by date of climate-damaging fossil fuels.

“It makes sense to fund the industries that help us solve climate change, not the industries that got us into this mess. Propping up fossil fuel industries with public money is bad for the climate and isn’t doing anything to relieve cost of living pressures for Australians either.

“The establishment of the Environment Protection Australia and Environment Information Australia is welcome, as is the crackdown on illegal land clearing.

“But there is much more the budget has not addressed on nature law reform and threatened species recovery. Experts say $2bn a year – less than a quarter of what is splashed annually in fuel tax credits – is needed to help Australian threatened species recover.

“We welcome the money to accelerate renewable energy approvals and map threatened species habitat to make sure projects are not approved in important habitat.

“The $20m to improve engagement with communities involved in the energy transition is crucial given the rise in misinformation and disinformation.

“This is the third Albanese government budget in which less than a cent out of every dollar the Commonwealth plans to spend is allocated to climate action and nature protection.

“There is a long way to go before funding for the environment is at a scale needed to protect and restore nature and secure the services nature provides and on which we all depend.”

Federal budget 2024-25 includes:

Energy transition

  • $22.7bn over a decade for the Future Made in Australia plan to underpin private investor and business confidence in building a renewable manufacturing and export industry, including
    1. Funding for renewable hydrogen, green metals clean energy technology manufacturing, including $8bn over 10 years to support the production of renewable hydrogen and $835m to boost solar manufacturing in Australia.
    2. $3.2bn over a decade to the Australian Renewable Energy Agency to support commercialisation of technologies that are critical to the net zero transition, including renewable hydrogen, green metals and battery manufacturing.
  • $182.7m over eight years to strengthen approval processes to support the delivery of the Future Made in Australia agenda and transition to a net zero economy, including
    1. $96.6m over four years to strengthen environmental approvals for renewable energy, transmission and critical minerals projects and to improve environmental data used in decision-making
    2. $20m to improve engagement with communities involved in the energy transition.
  • $91m over next five years for the development of clean energy workforce through expanded access to New Energy Apprenticeship Program and clean energy courses.
  • $399.1m over five years in additional resourcing for the Net Zero Economy Authority and Fair Work Commission to promote orderly and positive economic transformation for workers and regions affected by net zero transition.
  • $47.7m over four years to maximise consumer and community benefits of the energy transition, including $27.7m to better integrate consumer energy resources, such as rooftop solar, home batteries and electric vehicles into the grid.

International climate policy

  • $2m over five years to support Australia’s continued engagement in international climate change and energy transition issues, including climate diplomacy and bid to co-host the COP31
  • $150m over four years in international climate finance, including $100m over three years to fund small scale climate and disaster resilience projects in the Pacific and $50m over 2 years to the UN Green Climate Fund.

Nature

  • $40.9m over two years to continue implementing the Nature Positive Plan, including $5.3m additional funding to progress legislative reforms and $4.1m to drive voluntary update of the Nature Repair Market and nature-related reporting by businesses.
  • $50m in 2024-25 for the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority to engage tourism operators to conduct reef monitoring, protection and other stewardship activities.

Greenwashing

  • $17.3m over four years to take action against greenwashing and enhance the sustainable finance framework

Funding fossil fuels

  • $32.6m over four years to establish regulatory frameworks and bilateral instruments to enable industry to move carbon dioxide to geological storage sites (carbon capture and storage).
  • $54bn over five years for the fuel tax credits

Nuclear and uranium

  • $43m over six years to continue activities around identifying alternative pathways for disposal of Australia’s radioactive waste, including remediation of former national Radioactive Waste Management Facility.

Header pic: Swift parrots, April 2024, by Brendan Sydes

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