Community Sector Hits Back at Climate Solutions Fund
Wednesday, 27th February 2019 at 5:01 pm
The government’s rebadging of Tony Abbott’s emissions reduction fund as a “Climate Solutions Fund” has been slammed by community groups, who say it will be ineffective in solving the real problems causing climate change.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the package on Monday, and said it would build on Abbott’s highly criticised ERF which pays farmers and business to reduce carbon emissions.
Morrison said the solutions fund would continue to partner with farmers, business and Indigenous communities to help them reduce their emissions via reforestation, waste management solutions, and land care programs.
But the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) said a new name for the ERF wouldn’t answer questions about the governance, effectiveness or value for money the fund previously raised.
“Since coming to office in September 2013 the Coalition has made no progress in reducing Australia’s overall emissions, despite having the Emissions Reduction Fund, so it’s hard to see how continuing with the same methods will lead to a different result,” Gavin McFadzean, ACF climate change and clean energy program manager, said.
He said while the ERF could encourage farmers to protect native forests and restore vegetation, it did not divert the electricity sector away from non-renewable energy sources.
“It does nothing to move the electricity sector away from burning coal and gas, so is not suitable to be Australia’s primary mechanism for tackling climate change,” he said.
Cassandra Goldie, ACOSS CEO, noted that the climate package did little to solve climate change, or support people on low incomes, who could not afford clean energy solutions like solar panels.
“The Coalition has not increased its woefully inadequate 2030 emissions reduction targets, or outlined a plan to transition equitably to clean energy with protections for people on low-incomes,” Goldie said.
“The biggest opportunities that will make the biggest difference to people and emissions have been overlooked.”
Nicky Ison, director of the Community Power Agency, told Pro Bono News that given the government’s track record of climate inaction and attempting to cut billions of dollars from projects such as the Renewable Energy Agency, it was difficult to believe they had had a change of heart on the issue.
“This is a government that has been in for six years and not only has it done nothing to act on climate, they have done their best to undermine climate action by cutting the Renewable Energy Target and any national scheme to replace it,” Ison said.
“Their flagship policy has been the ERF but it doesn’t work because it calls for abatement, and a payment for abatement but not in the electricity sector.”
She said if the government was serious about acting on climate change, it would put in place a framework for the electricity sector to decarbonise, and impose penalties for not following through with agreed targets.
“If our largest polluters continue to float we need more research and funding into new technologies that help decarbonise our industrial and agricultural sector,” she said.
“And instead of paying people to plant trees, put in place penalties for deforestation.”
She encouraged the sector and the public to push for effective policies, and talk with their vote card at the upcoming federal election.
“For organisations who care about the future of our environment, and the future of people in low income households, I would be advocating that when they vote, they consider voting for a party that takes climate change seriously,” she said.