Cuts to the Environment and Climate Change budget

by Hannah Aulby, Researcher

Funding for the Environment Department has been cut again in this year’s budget. Since the 2012–13 budget, funding for the Environment Department has been cut by 37%. At a time when ecosystems are under extreme stress and entire species are threatened, the government is choosing to cut environment funding.

The only new spending on the environment in this year’s budget is the one off $444 million payment to support the Great Barrier Reef 2050 Partnership Program. This program is a partnership between the federal government and the Great Barrier Reef Foundation, which is headed up by business executives, including former oil and gas executives John Schubert and Grant King.

Less money for CEFC, ARENA and the Emissions Reductions Fund

In the 2013–14 budget, climate spending was $5.75 billion. Last year it was $3 billion. In this budget, this is down to $1.6 billion, with projections of further cuts to $1.25 billion in 2021–22. This means that the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) and the Emissions Reductions Fund will all be operating with less funding. This is a significant cut compared to the original allocation of funding for ARENA, which was $1.4 billion in the 2012–13 budget. This will severely restrict the ability of the CEFC and ARENA to support new renewable energy projects. The rest of the world is moving ahead with a renewable energy boom and Australia is being left behind, choosing to prop up aging and polluting coal fired power stations instead.

The only new spending on energy is $36.7 million over the next 5 years on regulation change, including implementing some recommendations of the Finkel review, improving the gas market, and supporting the COAG Energy Council.

Climate change is happening. In the summer of 2016/17 records were set for the highest monthly mean temperatures for Sydney and Brisbane and the highest daytime temperatures on record for Canberra. New South Wales recorded its overall warmest summer on record, and Queensland had its second-warmest summer on record.

Meanwhile Australia’s emissions keep increasing, with a 1.1% increase over the year to September 2017.The government could choose to cut our climate pollution by investing in renewable energy, and could help communities deal with climate change by investing in climate adaption programs.

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