Coalition to announce $3.5b environment policy including climate ‘solution’ fund

Coalition to announce $3.5b environment policy including climate ‘solution’ fund


The biggest component will be the revival of the emissions reduction fund, which is budget money used effectively to purchase carbon dioxide emissions.

The fund has about$250 million leftand was not funded beyond 2020. Mr Morrison will commit another $2 billion at $200 million a year, between 2020 and 2030. The fund will be renamed the Climate Solutions Fund and its remit will be broad.

As well, the Prime Minister is expected to unveil up to $1.5 billion in other environmental measures, taking the total to be committed today to around $3.5 billion.

The Climate Solutions Fund will be available for numerous uses ranging from paying farmers to revegetate degraded land and drought-proof their farms, to subsidising small businesses to install energy efficiency lighting and equipment.

Australia

Local councils could be helped with waste reduction and recycling initiatives, including greenhouse gas abatement from landfill, while remote Indigenous communities could be supported in reducing bushfire risk.

The policy follows a push by moderates in the aftermath of the Wentworth byelection in October. Progressive Liberal voters, angry at the dumping of Malcolm Turnbull by the hard right due ostensibly to his pursuit of emissions reduction in the energy sector, rounded on the party and elected independent Kerryn Phelps.

Moderates were rattled and warned Liberal seats with similar economically conservative but socially progressive demographics could also fall at the general election, expected in May.

Mr Abbott’s seat of Warringah is a prime example. His independent challenger Zali Steggall lists climate change as the key point of difference between her and the former prime minister.

At the same time, some moderates are agitating internally against plans by Energy Minister Angus Taylor to underwrite new coal-fired power.

Mr Morrison will be hoping the climate policy takes the fight to Labor on climate change. Labor’s Paris target is 45 per cent.

Last year Labor dumped the concept of an economy-wide price on carbon and alsoannounced a policy of direct action measuresin the energy sector. This included underwriting clean power generation and $2000 rebate for 100,000 home battery systems for households on combined annual incomes of less than $180,000.

It remains open to implementing the National Energy Guarantee, the policy that ended Mr Turnbull’s career, but only if the Coalition changes its mind.

But it left open imposing a baseline and credit schemeon the 350 biggest polluters, ranging from manufacturing to LNG production. Trade-exposed, emissions-intensive companies which would lose out to international competitors would be given exemptions.

Labor has previously signalled, too, that the transport sector would also have to do its bit to reach an economy-wide emissions reduction target of 45 per cent on 2005 levels by 2030. Labor is working on emissions standards for petrol and diesel vehicles as well as policies to prepare for an anticipated rush towards electric cars over the next decade.

Agriculture is likely to have land-clearing restrictions reimposed.

Mr Morrison will say today that his policy is superior because no one has to give anything up.

“We acknowledge and accept the challenge of addressing climate change, but we do so with cool heads, not just impassioned hearts,” he will say.

“Our approach is to take care of our environment but also take responsibility to ensure we acknowledge, understand and manage the consequences of our decisions.”

He will say Labor’s 45 per cent target “requires more than three times the amount of emissions reduction by 2030, compared with our government’s sensible and achievable target”.

“Sure you can have higher targets. But they come at a tremendous cost. A cost far worse than the carbon tax Labor said they wouldn’t introduce, but they did and our government had to abolish.

“Labor runs around the country telling industries and businesses they will be exempted. But if that is true then they have no hope of meeting their targets. Their targets depend on shutting industries and businesses down.”

Mr Morrison will note Australia’s 2030 target is the equivalent of reducing emissions per capita by around 50 per cent, which is one of the largest reductions of any G20 country.

“In terms of the emissions intensity of our economy, our effort is even greater a reduction of up to 64 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030,”‘ he will say.

“So our target is no slouch. We are playing our part. But nor is it reckless.”

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