Australian governments are Wrap hundreds of millions of dollars in fossil fuel industry subsidies in “the language of innovation,” according to new analysis.
The Australian Institute analyzed federal and state government assistance to fossil fuel producers and major users over the past fiscal year, finding that they had received $ 10.3 billion in spending and tax breaks.
More than three-quarters come from the federal government, mainly through its fuel tax credit program. The remainder comes largely from the Queensland government and its support for the coal and gas industries.
The report questions the value of concessions and growing investments in non-renewable energies like gas and controversial technologies like carbon capture storage. Both are popular with the coalition government and are often born out of state-of-the-art energy technology emission reduction initiatives.
Research highlights the recent billion dollar partnership between the Government of South Australia and the Commonwealth Government, which focused on gas, hydrogen and carbon storage, as an example worrying about the tendency to disguise subsidy announcements that might otherwise be unpopular with voters.
“It appears that governments and industry are no longer feigning ignorance of fossil fuel subsidies,” the report concludes.
“Instead, they’re publicizing them, wrapping them in the language of ‘innovation’ and pie-in-the-sky promises of ‘clean coal’ and magical technologies that will absolutely work… someday.
According to the report, several federal government energy projects also take a “technology neutral” approach to how funding is administered, allowing fossil fuel companies to receive public funding through programs promoted to reduce fuel prices. electricity and emissions thanks to new innovative technologies.
“A few years ago, such [fossil fuel] the grants would have been announced quietly, but they are now central to government policy, ”said Australian Institute research director Rod Campbell, co-author of the report.
“Australia is increasing fossil fuel subsidies, while the Biden administration vows to phase them out. Once again, Australian governments are going against the grain of global trends and good climate policy. “
At the state level, the fossil fuel industry receives more than $ 1 billion in subsidies each year, mostly through spending measures from the Queensland government, according to the study.
State subsidies are also often advertised as part of or supporting “green” or “clean” technologies, but may end up supporting fossil fuel companies and high-emission technologies.
The report identifies the announcement made last year by South Australian Prime Minister Steven Marshall to invest $ 37 million to upgrade a Point Bonython jetty to support the emerging green hydrogen industry in the States.
“However, according to a budget statement, the $ 37 million allocated for the investment was in fact” to perform critical maintenance work on the pier to ensure the continued use of the port for oil and gas exports. ” , says the Australian Institute report.
The government of South Australia has also funded an energy and mining innovation hub connecting fossil fuel giants with smaller stakeholders. The Australian Institute views the $ 1.8 million state funding for the hub as a fossil fuel subsidy.
In New South Wales, the government advisory group Coal Innovation NSW is also a vehicle to subsidize the fossil fuel industry, according to the report. It was established in 2008 and has allocated $ 100 million in funding for the research, development and demonstration of low-emission coal technologies.
“This research and development is funded by a government agency because the NSW government considers that there is currently not a ‘socially optimal’ amount of private investment in this area,” the report says. the Australian Institute.
“Although publicly funded, reports on the various projects supported by the fund are not all publicly available, and those that are can be of poor quality.”
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