The Australian Conservation Foundation has commended senators who last night saved the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) from Energy Minister Angus Taylor’s attempt to change the agency’s remit so it could fund fossil fuel projects.

Labor and Greens senators along with Senators Lambie and Patrick won a vote in the Senate, 28–27, to disallow the Minister’s new regulations, which would have seen ARENA funding:

  • Anything that is a ‘low-emission technology’ (with the ‘widest possible meaning’).
  • Anything that is a priority in the government’s Technology Investment Roadmap (which includes carbon capture projects and hydrogen produced from coal and gas).

“Angus Taylor wanted to turn the Australian Renewable Energy Agency into a body that could be used to fund the Minister’s pet projects, many which have no connection to renewable energy,” said ACF climate change manager Gavan McFadzean.

Labor and Greens senators with Senators Lambie and Patrick – and Senator Griff, who was not in the chamber, but supported the disallowance motion – have saved ARENA from being turned into a financier of projects run by the coal and gas industries, contradicting the agency’s original purpose.

“ACF congratulates the senators who have scotched this sneaky scheme to subvert ARENA’s clean energy mandate,” Mr McFadzean said.

Just last week a parliamentary committee, which has representation from Liberal, Labor and National parties, stated: ‘From a scrutiny perspective, the committee is concerned that the instrument is expanding the remit of the ARENA beyond what was envisaged by Parliament when the Act was passed.’

ARENA was set up in 2012. It has been very successful in driving innovation in renewable energy technologies. Since its inception, ARENA has invested $1.67 billion into 579 projects, realising $6.84 billion in value.

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