A responsible climate policy must include a whole-of-government and whole-economy approach to reducing pollution.

In response to Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s promise of a $2bn top up for the Emissions Reduction Fund, to be renamed the Climate Solutions Fund, the Australian Conservation Foundation’s Climate Change & Clean Energy program manager, Gavan McFadzean, said:

“There are serious questions about the governance, effectiveness and value for money of the Emissions Reduction Fund that a new name won’t fix.

“Since coming to office in September 2013 the Coalition has made no progress in reducing Australia’s overall emissions, despite having the Emissions Reduction Fund, so it’s hard to see how continuing with the same methods will lead to a different result.

“A program like the Emissions Reduction Fund can usefully encourage farmers and other landowners to protect native forests and restore vegetation, but it does nothing to move the electricity sector away from burning coal and gas, so is not suitable to be Australia’s primary mechanism for tackling climate change.

“A responsible climate policy must include a whole-of-government and whole-economy approach to reducing pollution, but today’s announcement contains nothing about the energy sector, or transport, or agriculture, or major industry – nothing about cutting pollution from the most polluting parts of our economy.

“ACF looks forward to seeing more detail about the Morrison Government’s flagged new measure on energy efficiency and electric vehicles. Support for electric cars, alongside a firm commitment to a carbon pollution standard for all new light vehicles, is an important measure to reduce transport pollution, which remains on an upward trajectory. 

“Under the Government’s current policies the only way Australia could meet its weak target to cut pollution by 26-28 per cent on 2005 levels by 2030 would be through the dubious method of carrying over credits from the previous Kyoto period to meet Paris targets.

“While the Emissions Reduction Fund would be a useful additional climate policy to complement economy-wide pollution reduction measures, or a broader policy suite that reduces pollution from all the most polluting sectors of the economy, it is not suitable as our primary mechanism, especially while the Federal Government continues to facilitate new coal mines and considers using public money to fund new coal-fired power stations.”

A recent investigation revealed that Vales Point, one of Australia’s dirtiest coal plants, has registered with the Emissions Reduction Fund in a bid to get public money to pay for its equipment upgrades.

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