In response to Resources Minister Keith Pitt’s announcement that the Morrison government will give $175 million from the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) to support the Olive Downs coal project in Queensland’s Bowen Basin, the Australian Conservation Foundation’s Suzanne Harter said:
“While investors around the world are getting out of fossil fuels, and Australia’s banks are becoming increasingly unwilling to finance coal projects due to their clear climate risks, the Morrison government is using public money to support coal.
“It seems investment in Olive Downs would not hold up for other investors, yet the Minister and the NAIF board have decided it is an acceptable use of public money.
“Recent amendments to the NAIF Act intentionally gave the federal resources and finance ministers greater powers to direct NAIF investments.
“It is deeply irresponsible to use public money to support a coal project in 2021 – flying in the face of overwhelming advice by scientists and even the International Energy Agency that a global pathway to net zero pollution by mid-century cannot include new coal or gas.
“Investing public money in coal defies Australia’s own economic regulators, which see climate change as one of the greatest threats to our economic system and have determined that climate risk is a material risk.
“Australia’s prudential regulator has advised all regulated entities it will assess the financial industry’s exposure to climate change in an effort to improve resilience.
“Today’s announcement follows Minister Pitt’s use of regulation to provide uncompetitive, non-merit-based grants to companies that want to drill for gas in the Beetaloo Basin – against the wishes of many Traditional Owners and counter to global efforts to avoid catastrophic global warming.”