No-one’s Smiling Now: Breach of Faith on Climate Action

No-one’s Smiling Now: Breach of Faith on Climate Action

Green groups are not happy with the latest budget. Government has taken the axe to environmental programs that save water and help farmers go green. WWF says people should be bitterly disappointed that this government has abandoned its national and international leadership on climate change, while Tim Flannery says this Government has failed to deliver effectively on any environmental issue.

Cathy Alexander for AAP in Sydney Morning Herald (11 May 2010):

The federal government has changed tack on climate change, replacing the emissions trading scheme with more money for wind farms and solar panels. But green groups say it’s just not enough to take on global warming.

That money has been recycled into a new green fund. The budget has also taken the axe to environmental programs that save water and help farmers go green.

Water-savvy programs that offered a $500 rebate for water tanks and paid cities to recycle water were stripped of $249 million.

Bush preservation programs like Caring for Country and Landcare have lost a combined $161 million in funding.

Don Henry from the Australian Conservation Foundation said the budget in no way made up for the government’s disappointing decision to can the ETS. “It’s not a pass for climate action and the environment.” The new money for renewable energy was welcome but “only a drop in the bucket compared to the action that a price on pollution would achieve”.

John Connor, chief executive at the Climate Institute, said the “disappointing budget” plus the ETS delay meant Australia’s greenhouse pollution would continue to rise. “We’ve seen some deep disappointments in this budget, and in the last couple of weeks, about this government’s promises to the Australian people,” Mr Connor said.

Another hot topic is how much aid Australia will give poorer countries to tackle global warming. Rich countries have pledged to find $US30 billion ($A33.22 billion), and Australia promised to pay its fair share.

The budget shows hundreds of millions will be spent on climate aid, with a focus on the Pacific and Indonesia. But the money will come out of the existing aid budget, and some leaders from the developing world say the climate dollars should be new money.


By David Coady on ABC (12 May 2010):

Former Australian of the Year Professor Tim Flannery has criticised the Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, for breaching the trust of the electorate on climate change.

Professor Flannery says Australia needs to move towards renewable energy.

He says the environment is headed towards the equivalent of a heart attack and he does not have any faith that Mr Rudd is going to take action.

“I could go to the Prime Minister now and say, ‘Look, why don’t we put some policies together to address climate change effectively,’” Professor Flannery said.

“And even if he accepted them, I wouldn’t have any faith that he would actually deliver on them because we’ve already seen this breach of faith.

“That’s the fundamental problem: it’s not the delay of the climate thing, as bad as that is, it’s the breach of faith with the electorate that’s the problem.”

Professor Flannery says the effects of climate change are already apparent around Australia but the Government has not done enough to deal with it.

“They need to deliver on their policies, they really do,” he said.

“And we have seen nothing from this Government to deliver as far as I can see effectively on any environmental issue.

“So it’s been very deeply disappointing, I think, for me to see all of this happen and it does have moral implications.

“I mean trust is the basis of all of our transactions and in politics it’s particularly important.”


WWF announcement (12 May 2010):

Failure to commit to an emissions trading scheme by 2011 and cuts to the flagship environmental program Caring for Country indicate the Government is abandoning its commitment to tackle climate change mitigation and letting the environment slide off its agenda.

“The Australian people should be bitterly disappointed that this government has abandoned its national and international leadership on climate change,” said WWF Conservation Manager Gilly Llewellyn.

“According to the budget papers the government may never legislate an emissions trading scheme, yet there is no contingency plan to meet the Government’s commitment to reduce emissions between five to twenty five per cent by 2020.

“The $652 million renewable energy future fund is a drop in the ocean compared to the amount required to create a clean economy in Australia and a fraction of the amount that would have been raised by an effective emissions trading scheme.”

The federal budget also includes cuts of over $300 million for environment programs, one fifth of which comes from the flagship environmental Caring For Our Country program.

“While WWF welcomes the $18 million for a National Plan for Environmental Information, without increased investments in environmental protection and management, this risks being an exercise in writing the requiem for species going extinct on the watch of this government,” said Ms Llewellyn.

At least 1575 species of Australian animals and plants were listed as being at risk of extinction under national law in 2007. Rapid, effective steps are needed to secure their critical habitats, but ironically in the International Year of Biodiversity, this budget takes us backwards.

WWF welcomes:

  • $335.4 million in international climate change financing commitment under the Copenhagen Accord
  • $102.7 million in additional funding to Green Loans program
  • $12 million over two years to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority
  • $8.1 million to complete the now overdue marine bioregional planning process
  • $2.4 million for negotiating and implementing arrangements for securing the Pacific regions valuable fish stocks.



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