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Morrison to announce $2 billion over 10 years for climate fund

Michelle Grattan writes in The Conversation (25.2.19) about the federal government’s announcement of a $2 billion investment in a Climate Solutions Fund, extending the Emissions Reduction Fund set up under the former Abbott government’s “direct action” program, but met with some scepticism.

‘Scott Morrison will announce $A2 billion over a decade for a Climate Solutions Fund, as the government seeks to counter criticisms that it is not doing enough towards dealing with climate change.

‘The money will extend the Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF), set up under the Abbott government’s “direct action” program, which at present has only $226 million uncommitted in it. More than $2.3 billion has now been committed under the ERF.

‘The new money – which will be about $200 million annually starting from January 2020 – will be used to partner with farmers, local government and businesses to reduce emissions.

‘… In a Monday speech, part of which has been released ahead of delivery, Morrison defends the government’s record on climate and attacks Labor’s policy as irresponsible.

‘The speech will contain further environment announcements beyond the $2 billion.

‘Climate change was an issue to the forefront in the Wentworth byelection, the loss of which threw the Coalition into minority government. It is considered a potent issue in Victoria, where the government has several seats at risk. In the high profile contest in Warringah, NSW, independent Zali Steggall, Tony Abbott’s main opponent, is running hard on it.’

Hot air, at a canter

Rodney Tiffen writes in Inside Story (18.3.19) that Prime Minister Scott Morrison is heading into the 2019 election with a climate policy ‘made up of half-truths and evasions’.

‘”A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.” It’s a quote (usually attributed to Mark Twain) that Scott Morrison seems to have taken to heart. At least when it comes to climate change policies, he is gambling that if he creates enough colour and movement the truth won’t catch up, or at least not before the election.

‘Global warming has been a particularly challenging issue for the Coalition. Although Tony Abbott’s government promised to reduce emissions by 26 per cent by 2030 (using 2005 as the base year) when it signed the Paris agreement, emissions have been heading in the opposite direction for the past five years. “The truth is, the Liberal Party and the Coalition is not capable of dealing with climate change,” Malcolm Turnbull told a conference in November, because the two parties include “a constituency” that thinks climate change is “a fraud.” Each of the Turnbull government’s major initiatives to match energy and environmental concerns failed internally, the last one helping to precipitate the party’s dumping of Turnbull, which in turn provoked a strong backlash from those who thought the government was failing on the issue.

‘And yet, as if there were no yesterday, Scott Morrison boldly launched his Climate Solutions Fund late last month. It included more funding for Turnbull’s Snowy 2.0 hydro scheme and for new infrastructure to enable Tasmania to supply more hydro power to the mainland, both of which inspired televised prime ministerial media conferences. The package bows to Coalition sensitivities by failing to mention solar or wind power and only investing in what Morrison had previously called “fair dinkum” power.’

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