Budget 2021: Scott Morrison turns green with energy
The budget has allocated $1.6bn of investment towards low-emissions technologies — including funding for hydrogen and energy storage — as Scott Morrison tries to reverse global perceptions his government does not take climate change seriously.
But the investment is unlikely to impress green groups who are pushing the Morrison government to increase its ambition on the issue given the changing geopolitical environment since Joe Biden was elected as US President.
Josh Frydenberg used his budget speech on Tuesday night to label the government the “custodians of this great continent for future generations”.
“Australia is playing its part on climate change, having met our 2020 commitments and is on track to meet and beat our 2030 target,” the Treasurer said.
“Australia is on the pathway to net zero and our goal is to get there as soon as we possibly can, preferably by 2050.
“We will do this with a practical, technology-focused approach. Technology not taxes. Already, we have the highest uptake of rooftop solar in the world and are supporting major energy storage projects like Snowy 2.0 and Battery of the Nation.
“Our approach will strengthen the economy, create jobs and reduce emissions.”
Mr Frydenberg also promoted $480m in new funding for the environment, including $100m for oceans. Initiatives in the budget include: $639m to promote low emissions technology partnerships in the Indo-Pacific region; $275.5m to accelerate the development of four hydrogen export hubs; $263.7m for carbon capture and storage; and $59.6m to support initiatives that will lower carbon emissions from soil and livestock.
There will also be $279.9m to create a mechanism that will encourage large industrial businesses to reduce their energy consumption and lower emissions, while there will be $30m to support a big battery and rollout of microgrids in the Northern Territory.
There is funding in the budget to increase the supply of gas, which the government believes is a transition fuel, including $38.7m to support infrastructure projects to alleviate a projected supply shortfall.
There are also measures to improve Australia’s fuel security, including $50.7m to establish a new fuel security framework and a refinery production payment to maintain local capability.
Energy Minister Angus Taylor said the budget was part of the government’s “responsible and pragmatic approach to energy policy and emissions reduction”.
“Our 2021-22 budget measures will provide reliable, secure and affordable energy to all Australians, and increase investment in technology solutions to reduce emissions in a way that supports jobs and economic growth,” Mr Taylor said.
“These initiatives will secure Australia’s recovery while also bolstering our position as a leader in the development of low emissions technologies, which are vital to achieving net zero emissions globally.”
Mr Morrison stared down global pressure at a global climate change conference last month for Australia to commit to a net-zero emissions by 2050 target, as well as more ambitious 2030 commitments.
The government is expected to sign up to a 2050 target before the UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow in November.