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Published by ABC’s The Drum.
This week Tony Abbott and the Coalition opened up a new front in their ideological war against climate change action and carbon pricing.
In a move reminiscent of the US Tea Party, renewable energy has become the new target of Australia’s conservative party.
Not content with the ‘blood pledge‘ to repeal the carbon price, Abbott lieutenants Joe Hockey and Andrew Robb announced that a Coalition government would scrap the Clean Energy Finance Council (CEFC). If well designed and administered, the body is a potentially useful aid for Australia’s transition to a 21st-Century clean economy. The plan to abolish the CEFC threatens $10 billion of investment: $5 billion exclusively for renewable energy and the remainder available for cleantech manufacturing, energy efficiency and enabling infrastructure.*
The announcement confirms suspicions that the Coalition is becoming an anti-renewable energy party. This unwarranted position has implications for the domestic renewable energy industry, decarbonising the economy, and the political landscape.
Crossposted at Crikey’s environment blog, Rooted.
Throughout 2011 Australia’s best-funded environment organisations have been united in support of the Labor government’s push to establish a carbon price. Not everyone, it seems, thinks this is a good thing.
In a compelling essay published in The Monthly, Dr Guy Pearse, the former Liberal party advisor who revealed the “greenhouse mafia’s” influence over national climate and energy policy during the Howard years, challenges the environment groups that uncritically cheer for the government’s flawed climate change policy.
“It’s a far cry from 2009,” notes Pearse, “when the environmental movement split over the so-called Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS). … Now environmentalists are cheering almost as one, not just for ‘climate action’ but for Gillard’s plan.” While the Clean Energy Future legislation is a marginal improvement on its predecessor, the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, it still contains many of the flaws that fuelled the split only a few years ago.
Pearse offers several reasons as to why this is the case: a partisan bias toward the Labor party; the sectors’ increasing focus on incremental gains; and the commonly held belief that markets will solve the climate crisis. Is there more to the story than these contingent factors? Pearse thinks there is and calls attention to the link between Australia’s foremost environmental philanthropists—the Poola Foundation and the Purves Environmental Fund—and the ENGOs that ‘Say Yes’ to the government’s carbon price push: