While much of the media continues to perpetuate the fake “Morrison inching toward climate action” narrative, last night’s budget confirms how committed the government is to backing its fossil fuel donors and how little it is doing on climate action.
The government had already announced its new handout for fossil fuel companies that pay the Coalition hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in donations: $263 million to be given to fossil fuel companies for the fraud of carbon capture and storage projects. But the budget papers revealed more giveaways to the fossil fuel sector. According to the Australian Conservation Foundation, the government will also hand $58.6 million to the gas industry for gas infrastructure and storage, as well as over $200 million to upgrade Northern Territory roads near gas projects.
There’s some funding for a battery project, less than $50 million, but otherwise renewables don’t feature in the budget. The only significant funding for climate-related action is $210 million for an Australian Climate Service “to help Australia better anticipate, manage and adapt to the impacts of natural disasters and changing climates”. The government will also provide a $10 billion government guarantee to the Australian Reinsurance Pool Corporation — originally set up to provide insurance coverage for terrorism attacks — “in support of administering a reinsurance pool for cyclones and related flooding”.
That’s the government’s response to the growing problem that insurance companies are refusing to provide coverage in northern Australia due to the growing frequency of floods and cyclones caused by climate change. The reinsurance pool is intended to be cost-neutral over time, according to the budget papers. But it’s still classed a risk to the budget in the future.
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So climate action in the budget is limited to adaptation measures: better weather reports and more insurance for disasters caused by climate change. Actual climate action to prevent climate change is missing. This is the new denialist mantra in action: it’s too late to stop climate change, we’re just going to have to adapt to it as best we can.
Meanwhile, much bigger handouts continue to the fossil fuel industry causing it.