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Economic warning over Government's 'catastrophic climate failure'

A flooded street in Lismore with a man standing in a yellow rain jacket near the waters. Money in front of the screen towards the left.
The Climate Council has criticised the Coalition's lack of funding to tackle the climate crisis. (Source: Getty/AAP)

Australia’s performance tackling the climate crisis has been savaged in a new report that examines the cost of “inaction” on the nation and its economy.

Examining the past eight years, "a complete and catastrophic failure” is how the Climate Council has characterised the Federal Government’s response to the issue.

The 80-page document highlights a string of “failures”, including slashing of CSIRO jobs, cuts to the Australian Renewable Energy Agency and the scrapping of the Climate Commission.

By contrast, fossil fuel companies have significantly benefited from new funding from the Coalition, with key examples including:

  • $2.3 billion to oil refineries via the Fuel Security Service Payment

  • $600 million for the Kurri Kurri gas-fired power station

  • Approval of the Scarborough gas project, which could create up to 1.6 billion tonnes of emissions

The Climate Council argues that as the world’s third-largest exporter of fossil fuels, Australia must do more to combat the climate crisis.

Warning Australia could be left behind

The imbalance of funding, the Climate Council warned, had left the country ill-prepared to capitalise on economic opportunities from the global clean energy transition.

It noted the Business Council of Australia was promoting stronger emissions-reduction policies than both Labor and the Coalition had, and that reducing emissions had the potential to create jobs and economic growth.

Composite showing wind turbines in the ocean, and coal mining operations.
As the world switches to clean energy, there are fears Australia could be left behind. (Source: AAP)

International Energy Agency forecasting suggests global renewable capacity will grow by 50 per cent between 2019 and 2024 as economies shift to net-zero emissions.

Technology that supports the transition is expected to be lucrative for early adopters, with a global price tag on upfront conversion estimated to be around $100 trillion, according to Stanford University.

It's also estimated green power will create around 38 million more jobs when compared to sticking with fossil fuels.

Critics warn Budget neglects climate change

The report comes two days after Treasurer Josh Frydenberg delivered his 2022 Budget, which forecast a significant decrease in spending to tackle climate change, while pledging more than $50 million to fund coal seam gas projects.

  • Climate change spending will drop from $2 billion to $1.3 billion by 2025

  • Fossil fuel production has increased 19 per cent since 2013

  • Australia is now the world’s third-largest fossil fuel exporter

With Australia experiencing the impact of more severe weather events due to climate change, the Climate Council urged Australia’s next government to “adopt credible climate policies as a matter of extreme urgency”.

It warned a lack of pre-disaster preparedness would prove costly as flooding, droughts and bushfires became more frequent and severe.

While the Government has established new programs to build resilience and mitigate risk, the Climate Council argued they lacked adequate funding.

Australians dissatisfied with Government: survey

The report has been released, along with a survey commissioned to gauge the opinions of 1,299 Australians.

In responses via SMS, the average score was three out of 10, when it came to assessing the Morrison Government’s response to climate change and worsening extreme weather.

Among those aged, 18-25, the average score was just 1.5 out of 10.

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