Coalition's budget failure on climate change "no surprise," say Friends of the Earth

National environment group Friends of the Earth says the Federal Coalition's 2018 budget failure on climate change comes as "no surprise" and underscores the need for greater leadership from states and territories.

"Treasurer Scott Morrison used the budget speech to rule out setting the ambitious Emissions Reduction Targets needed to avoid dangerous climate change. And he did so without mentioning climate change," said Leigh Ewbank of Friends of the Earth.

"Mr Morrison's refusal to mention climate change in the budget address is a slap in the face of community members who are exposed to the intensifying climate impacts such late-season bushfires."

Despite climate change impacts becoming more obvious and demanding urgent attention, the 2018 budget papers show a steady decline in investment in climate change. Initiatives such as the well-performing Clean Energy Finance Corporation and controversial Emissions Reduction Fund taper off over the forward estimates.

"Given that we're seeing alarming melting of the polar icecaps, the decline of the Great Barrier Reef, record-breaking heat in April, and late-season bushfires, political leaders of substance would be making climate change a priority."

"Australia needs to arrest the declining investment in climate solutions if we're to make headway on international commitments to cut emissions."

Friends of the Earth say the Turnbull government's refusal to acknowledge climate change in the budget is "no surprise" given the Coalition's poor track record.

Evidence shows the Abbott and Turnbull governments have actively undermined efforts to address the issue.

Since 2013 the Coalition has:

  • Eliminated the Climate Commission.
  • Defunded the CSIRO’s climate change research programs.
  • Appointed a ‘climate skeptic’ to review the national Renewable Energy Target.
  • Slashed the national Renewable Energy Target by 20 percent.
  • Attacked wind farms and backing a hostile senate inquiry into the technology.
  • Presided over the loss of 1 in 3 jobs in Australia’s renewable energy sector.
  • Suggested “coal is good for humanity.”
  • Brandished a lump of coal in the House of Representatives while Australians on the east coast sweltered through a record-breaking heatwave.
  • Attempted to abolish the national Clean Energy Finance Corporation twice despite it delivering a return on investment to taxpayers.
  • Suggested that so-called “clean coal” and gas power should receive funding from the Clean Energy Finance Corporation.
  • Cut the budget of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) by $500 million.
  • Ruled out an Emissions Intensity Scheme before considering the merits of the policy.
  • Repealed the carbon price penalty for corporations that pollute our air and cause climate change.
  • Let polluters of the hook and forcing taxpayers to pay for emissions cuts by establishing the flawed Emissions Reduction Fund.
  • Supported Adani’s Carmichael coal mine and export industry.
  • Continued calls to overturn the Victoria’s legislated ban on risky unconventional gasfields and moratorium on onshore gas.
  • Attacked environment groups and charities in the press, with hostile reviews, and the appointment of a long-standing critic as Charities Commissioner. 
  • Undertaken a tokenistic climate policy review and buried the findings a few days before Christmas.

Friends of the Earth say it's up to the states and territories to fill the leadership vacuum while the current government takes a head-in-the-sand approach to climate change.

"The Turnbull government's failure on climate change underscores the need for states and territories to show greater leadership," said Leigh Ewbank.

"It's exactly why we're calling on the Andrews government to deliver Victoria's first climate budget to rein in emissions and protect the community from impacts.

"The Andrews government's 2018 budget released a week prior to the Federal budget was a disappointing one for the environment, lacking big ticket items to tackle climate change.

"It was disappointing to see the Andrews government’s 2018 budget fail to deliver big ticket items for climate change and environmental protection," said Leigh Ewbank, Friends of the Earth spokesperson.

“The community is looking to the Labor government to have vision when it comes to tacking climate change—such as powering the train network with renewables and building Melbourne Metro 2.”

Friends of the Earth are calling for political parties to commit to delivering Victoria's first climate budget in the lead up to the state election in November.

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