The Federal Budget papers show a re-elected Morrison Government would slash funding for climate action, reports The Guardian.
Does the Government really think this is an election-winning strategy?
Below are responses from the Climate Council, Australian Lawyers for Human Rights, and others.
*** This post was updated on 31 March ***
A massive lost opportunity
Statement by The Climate Council
The 2022 Federal Budget has failed to deliver any meaningful commitments to address escalating climate change in Australia.
Nicki Hutley, Climate Councillor, leading economist and former Partner at Deloitte Access Economics, who was in today’s Budget lockup, has calculated that just 0.3% of total expenditure for 2021-2024 has been committed to climate change initiatives, falling even lower, to just 0.2% in 2024-2026.
She said much of the 0.3% is funding already committed prior to this Budget and that the 22/23 Budget adds ‘virtually nothing’ to that.
“Rather than investing in a green economic future, the Federal Government has used tonight’s Budget to toss mere pennies at genuine emissions reduction initiatives, such as the regional renewable microgrids,” Ms Hutley said.
“At the same time, significant funds are being spent on so-called ‘low emissions hydrogen’ and the costly and unproven carbon capture and storage. And a further $50 million dollars is being directed to accelerate polluting gas projects.
“Similarly, the temporary reduction in fuel excise – while welcome for many households – could perhaps have been better spent on supporting electric vehicles and EV infrastructure investment as well as public and active transport initiatives.
“Australia’s regions will play a critical role in the transition to a renewable economy. While the Budget offers programs for four key centres, including NSW’s Hunter Valley, there is not a whisper of transition or measures to support state governments’ initiatives.
“Ironically, while proposals for action on climate change are almost non-existent, the costs of climate-fuelled natural disasters are stark and mounting.”
The Budget estimates $5 billion will be needed over the next two years for “support measures for flood affected primary producers, small businesses, not-for-profit organisations and councils, as well as clean up, mental health and temporary accommodation measures. This will be funded equally by the federal and state governments.
A $1.75 billion in disaster funding is earmarked alongside another $245 million for flood disaster payments. And on top of this there is $300 million provided for this year and next for NSW and Queensland to fund recovery and post-disaster resilience measures.
“The costs of disaster recovery are stark, and yet there is nothing in this Budget that addresses the root cause of climate change, which is exacerbating these extreme weather events and their impacts.”
The Climate Council is Australia’s leading community-funded climate change communications organisation.
Young people slam Morrison’s cash splash for gas
Statement by the Australian Youth Climate Coalition
The Australian Youth Climate Coalition (AYCC) condemns the Morrison Government’s announcement of $50 million for gas projects and $130 million to fast track environmental approvals in the federal budget.
“This budget is more of the Morrison Government lining the pockets of big fossil fuel corporations for dangerous gas projects that our climate and communities can’t afford,” said Alex Fuller, Australian Youth Climate Coalition National Director.
“While flood-devastated communities are still cleaning up, the Morrison Government has announced $50 million for climate-wrecking gas projects and $130 million to make environmental approvals easier for big mining corporations,” she said.
“Throughout the pandemic the Morrison Government has poured billions in public money into the hands of big coal and gas corporations – while these corporations profit from fuelling the climate crisis and making climate disasters worse,” she added.
“Young people want to see our government represent us instead of fossil fuel billionaires,” said Alex.
“Tax breaks and handouts for afew big climate-wrecking gas corporations should instead fund the things that matter to all of us, like secure jobs, affordable housing and renewable energy from the wind and sun,” she added.
“This federal election young people are stepping up together to fight for our future. We’re demanding all parties that want to represent us commit to a safe climate for all of us and deliver a real plan to get us there,” said Alex.
“Ahead of the election AYCC will be running a youth enrolment campaign to get more young people across the country enrolled to vote – and our grassroots networks of young people will be having thousands of conversations in their communities about voting climate,” she added.
Failure to address critical challenges
Statement by Australian Lawyers for Human Rights
At a time when the human rights of Australians are directly at risk from climate-driven floods, bushfires and heatwaves, the budget has cut spending on climate action, with a reduction from $2 billion to $1.3 billion over four years (a cut of 35 per cent per year).
During its current term, this Government has seen catastrophic bushfires, flooding, unprecedented bleaching of our Great Barrier Reef and the hottest years on record. Australia is the only G20 country that is trying to pull the plug on limiting global warming to 1.5C. In early March the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) warned governments they must accelerate their climate mitigation and adaptation strategies.
The science is clear, we are nearing a 1.5°C increase in global temperatures which will cause an imminent increase in multiple significant climate hazards. As a result, Australia can expect more extreme hot days, more frequent marine heatwaves resulting in increased cyclones and rain events such as the recent flood catastrophes in Queensland and New South Wales.
Australian Lawyers for Human Rights (ALHR) President Kerry Weste said, “This complex and interwoven chain of events creates an imminent and serious threat to the human rights of all Australians. Fires and floods risk our right to life to adequate housing and to the highest attainable standard of health but the 2022 Budget does not address these critical challenges.”
“Our communities need investment in climate mitigation and adaptation. Our Federal Budget should be charting a vision for a fairer and more sustainable Australia with climate action policies that rapidly scale up mitigation and adaptation while ensuring no-one is left behind. Instead, the Federal Government has cut climate action in this critical decade when we still have an opportunity to avert the worst of the climate crisis,” she said.
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