Australian news, and some related international items

Liberal Coalition makes big cuts to its already inadequate climate action plan

Liberal-policy-1logo-election-Aust-13Coalition climate policies take $320m hit September 6, 2013    Environment editor, The Age The Coalition has cut $320 million from its direct action climate policy, halving rooftop rebates for households and cutting spending on geothermal and tidal power.The changes came amid a sweep of cuts to clean energy and climate change programs in the Coalition’s costings released by Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey on Thursday.

While the central element of the direct action policy has remained intact – a $2.55 billion fund to emissions cuts from industry and farmers – the Coalition has trimmed funding in some of the additional programs contained under the policy. That includes halving the rebate to households under a program to install one million more rooftop solar panel systems over 10 years. Initially households were to be offered $1000 rebates for either solar panels or solar hot water systems – with rebates capped at 100,000 a year.

But Coalition climate action spokesman Greg Hunt confirmed the rebate on offer would now be $500. That means spending on the solar scheme will be $50 million a year, rather than $100 million. Mr Hunt said the reduction was the result of dramatic decreases in the cost of solar systems in recent years. He said priority would now be given to solar hot water and low income households.

In other changes:

  • The Coalition has also scrapped $50 million over four years in planned funding to support the development of geothermal and tidal power.
  • $60 million in spending on clean energy employment hubs has been scrapped, with Mr Hunt instead saying it had been replaced with $9 million in funding for the National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility at Griffith University.
  • $100 million for a solar towns and schools program will be stretched over six years, rather than four.

With other changes all up direct action will now cost $2.88 billion over the first four years, rather than the originally budgeted $3.2 billion. The costings confirm the Coalition’s long-stated plans to axe the carbon price, which will end up costing it $6 billion to do so as a result of foregone revenue.

Amid the savings it claims is $1.46 billion from abolishing “other carbon tax measure no longer needed.” That is understood to include a cut to the Australian Renewable Energy Agency and savings for closing the Clean Energy Finance Corporation. But the Coalition is yet to detail the exact cuts. Other savings include suspending a program to connect renewables to the electricity grid, saving $185 million. The national low emissions coal initiative will have $42 million in funding reduced, while the national CO2 infrastructure plan will be suspendend, saving $13 million.

It will also “redirect” $349 million in spending on the carbon capture and storage flagships.

September 6, 2013 - Posted by | election 2013

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