Will the Federal Budget reduce climate lip service to hot air?

Friends of the Earth Australia will review the impending federal budget with interest to see if Environment Minister Senator Ian Campbell’s comments on climate change have had any affect on the Treasurer’s impending budget announcement.

In January this year Senator Campbell stated that climate change must be a priority for the government and was the pre-eminent environmental issue in Australia.

For this to be reflected in the federal budget, Friends of the Earth would expect to see program funding for energy efficiency, renewable energy commercialisation and demand management programs in both domestic and international programs such as Australia’s overseas aid programs.

“Over the past two years we have seen the Coalition government strip funding for renewable energy and strongly favour fossil fuel industry support” stated Friends of the Earth spokesperson Stephanie Long.

“There is currently no federal funding for renewable energy development outside of the ‘solar cities’ program, whilst fossil fuels have been given $90 million dollars in research funds since 1997.” said Ms Long.

“If this government truly considers climate change to be the ‘pre-eminent’ environmental issue, the ratio of funding to the fossil fuel industry in both research, commercialisation and subsidies as compared to renewable energy would be reversed.”

Friends of the Earth is convinced that Australians want more than tax breaks in the new federal budget due for release this evening. Australia’s want to also know that we are doing our ‘bit’ as global citizens on the issues of poverty, AIDS, global warming and sustainable development.

Friends of the Earth Australia has been deeply unimpressed by the response given by Coalition government when approached in 2003 to accept half of the Tuvaluan population in recognition of the impact of climate change on this very low-lying atoll nation.

“Australia also needs to put our money towards assisting those most affected by climate change. Climate refugees is an existing issue in the Pacific and the governments response to direct requests for assistance from Tuvalu has been appallingly inadequate.” Stated Ms Long.

As amongst the world’s highest per capita producers of greenhouse gases and most greenhouse intensive economy, Australia has an obligation to demonstrate leadership on climate refugees and climate change mitigation.

“Friends of the Earth also supports calls for our overseas aid funds to increase to 0.7% of Gross National Income in recognition of climate change to people around the world already living in poverty.”

“This is an international standard that Australia, as an OECD nation is committed to meeting, yet our aid funding has slipped to an all time low of around 0.2% of Gross National Income.”

For comment:

Stephanie Long, FoE Australia Climate Justice Campaigner
Mobile: 0414 136 461
Email: stephanie.long@archive.foe.org.au

Further information for Journalists

Actions that Friends of the Earth considers essential:

  • · Australia requires mandatory targets for renewable energy of 10% by 2010 and by 30% by 2020 to ensure that necessary energy requirements are met, and commericalisation funds available to support the renewable energy industry to meet these targets.
  • · Comprehensive national program to drastically reduce unnecessary consumption of resources and implement energy efficiency measures as renewable energy alone will not meet our current energy demand and as a nation of extremely high consumption patterns.
  • · Immediately halt subsidies for fossil fuel use in Australia, and in particular financial and political support for coal-reliant industries such as the aluminium industry and eliminate subsidies for the development of oil and coal. Currently we spend about $9 billion of taxpayer’s funds a year on subsidies for fossil fuel consumption in Australia.
  • · Australia needs to be prepared to accept responsibility for climate refugees from this region and including a definition of environmental refugees with an intake policy above and beyond the current intake of refugees and reflective of our high per capita levels of greenhouse gas emissions is crucial.
  • · Considering the long time-lag of carbon in the atmosphere of approximately 50 years, countries with high per capita greenhouse gas emissions (industrialized countries) should provide assistance as requested for adaptation requirements (such as renewable energy generation and fresh water supply programs) that will prevent the forced migration of citizens of small island states and low lying areas of non-industrialised nations.
  • · In addition, industrialised nations should increase their contribution to emergency relief funds to respond to countries post-natural disaster. These measures should be above and beyond the existing funds provided through our aid and development program, which is well below the 0.7% required by the Development Assistance Committee of the OECD.

Stephanie Long, FoE Australia Climate Justice Campaigner
Mobile: 0414 136 461
Email: stephanie.long@archive.foe.org.au