Whenever government Ministers are asked to expand on how we will achieve our emissions reduction targets beyond the “meet and beat” catchphrase, they bring up the $3.5 billion grandiosely named “Climate Solutions Package”.
So let’s unpack that packapooticket.
“The Government will provide $3.5 billion over 15 years from 2018-19 for a Climate Solutions Package to deliver on Australia’s 2030 climate commitments”
Ummm…that takes us out to 2032-33 with only $233.3 million on average spent each year.
But wait…that’s actually “$2.0 billion over 15 years from 2019-20, including $189.1 million over four years to 2022-23, to establish a Climate Solutions Fund that will allow for expanded investments in low-cost abatement currently underway through the Emissions Reduction Fund”
To put that in perspective, the government spent $185 million reopening the Christmas Island detention centre in a hissy fit after the Medevac bill passed. Then they closed it. Then they reopened it to house that enormous risk to security, the family from Biloela, costing a further $30 million to house four people, two of whom are little girls.
The government also plans to spend “up to $1.38 billion in equity over six years from 2019-20, to support the delivery of the Snowy 2.0 project, subject to Snowy Hydro Limited (SHL) achieving financial close on the project and the commencement of the main project works, expected in 2020.”
When this project was first announced, Snowy 2.0 was to cost $2 billion, be completed in 4 years, entirely funded by Snowy Hydro Ltd. Two years later, Prime Minister Morrison announced Government approval of the Business Case, at an estimated cost of $3.8 billion (with an upper limit of $4.5 billion): “following Snowy Hydro Board’s final investment decision on 12 December 2018, the Government has reviewed the project’s business case and is satisfied that the project stacks up” – so much so that the government will now be kicking in $1.38 billion.
Snowy Hydro hasn’t released its (partial) Business Case, claiming it contains commercially sensitive information. Nor has any financial information been provided – quelle surprise.
The National Parks Association of NSW has released an extensive paper showing why this project doesn’t stack up.
We are also paying a lot for oversight of the project.
“$5.5 million over four years from 2019-20 (and $0.8 million per year ongoing) to the Department of the Environment and Energy, and $4.3 million over four years from 2019-20 (and $0.7 million per year ongoing) to the Department of Finance, to support Commonwealth oversight of SHL and the Snowy 2.0 project.”
Moving on, the government will provide “$61.2 million over four years from 2019-20 to establish the Energy Efficient Communities Program, which will provide grants to businesses and community organisations to improve energy efficiency practices and technologies to better manage energy consumption” and a further “$18.0 million over six years from 2019-20 for households and businesses to improve energy efficiency and lower energy bills.”
Well, that’s great, if you forget about all the similar programs that the Coalition government have axed, like the one million more solar roofs across Australia and at least 25 solar towns, the Low Emissions Technology Demonstration Fund, the National Low Emission Coal Initiative, Energy Efficiency Programmes, the National Solar Schools Plan, Energy Efficiency Information Grants and Low Carbon Communities. They also tried to get rid of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) and were successful in reducing the Renewable Energy Target (RET).
The government also budgeted “$56.0 million in 2018-19 for a feasibility study to accelerate the delivery of Marinus Link, a second interconnector between Tasmania and the mainland, to unlock pumped hydro storage potential in Tasmania and provide more affordable and reliable electricity for homes and businesses.”
However, a feasibility study into the project released in February last year, funded by a $10 million grant by federal government agency ARENA, warned that the costs will probably outweigh the project’s benefits unless about 7000 megawatts of coal-fired generation capacity in the east coast electricity market is prematurely retired.
This rate of closure assumes Australia adopts a target to cut emissions by 52 per cent by 2030, based on 2005 levels – far higher than the government’s 26 per cent target.
The last part of their “Climate Solutions” is to provide “$0.4 million in 2019-20 to develop a National Electric Vehicle Strategy to ensure a planned and managed transition to new vehicle technology and infrastructure.”
Which is rather at odds with Scotty’s impassioned opposition to the Labor party’s support for electric vehicles when he said in April last year that electric vehicles were unaffordable and were “not going to tow your trailer. It’s not going to tow your boat … Bill Shorten wants to end the weekend when it comes to his policy on electric vehicles.”
It’s also less than the $530,000 Bridget McKenzie spent fitting out her new office in Wodonga.
On this most important of issues, the greatest threat to our nation, the government is having as much impact as a ping pong ball bouncing around from one announcable to the next.
Our very survival depends on turfing these self-serving incompetents and replacing them with a government who recognises the risks we are facing and is willing to act to mitigate the worst of the catastrophe that awaits us if we fail to act decisively like yesterday.
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