The government is creating a $1 billion fund to invest in low-emissions technology including controversial carbon capture and storage technology.
The fund will be run by the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) – the government’s so-called ‘green bank’ that is run by a seven-member board, many of whom are directors of fossil fuel companies.
Half of the $1 billion fund will come from government and the other half from private investors.
In a statement announcing the fund, both Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Minister for Industry, Energy and Emissions Reduction Angus Taylor said the fund was about helping the local energy industry.
“Australia can become a world leader in creating low emissions technology that is both affordable and scalable, helping get emissions down while creating jobs,” Morrison said.
“We are backing Australian businesses by creating an environment for their successful ideas to thrive.”
Taylor said the fund would support local “innovators to develop their intellectual property and grow their businesses in Australia”.
Business Council CEO Jennifer Westacott welcomed the move, saying Australian companies have already been leading the move away from high emissions energy sources.
"This fund will help them do even more," she said. "Australian companies are making investments, transforming processes, and innovating to drive a clean energy future.
"This new fund will help harness business know-how and investment to innovate and drive down emissions at the lowest possible cost."
The fund will be in the form of equity and the government expects to make a return on its investments.
Australia has been embarrassed during the recent COP26 climate change conference in Glasgow which saw the government refuse to sign pledges about phasing out coal use and cutting down methane emissions.
It then came dead-last for climate policy in the 2022 Climate Change Performance Index and was given an overall rating of ‘very poor’.
The index’s contributors noting that Australia’s main climate change policy “sets insufficient targets and measures for decarbonising the country’s economy by 2050”.
The latest funding announcement does little to make progress toward this goal – rather the government is preparing legislation that will enable the funding to go toward controversial carbon capture (CCS) and storage technology in which the CEFC is currently prohibited from investing.
CCS technology sees fossil fuel companies try and capture the greenhouse gasses they emit and effectively inject them back into the ground.
It has been criticised as an expensive way to keep oil and gas producers closely tied to Australia’s energy market when other nations are moving toward renewables.
Simon Holmes à Court, Senior Advisor at the University of Melbourne’s Climate and Energy College recently described CCS as a “distraction”.
“Since CCS adds significant cost but no benefit to a process, it will always require either a carbon price or regulations to be viable,” he wrote in The Conversation.
“Second, while CCS may play a role at the margins in areas where emissions are hard to abate, such as cement production, its only significant role for coal and gas is as a fig leaf for inaction.”
The government, along with its cheerleaders at News Corp, have attempted a dramatic about-face on climate change in recent months in an attempt to clear from the public mind efforts from successive Liberal/National governments to thwart climate action.
On Tuesday the government announced a new electric vehicle (EV) policy that proponents of the next generation car technology have slammed as being a “fizzer”.
During the last federal election, Morrison led a rampant attack on the Opposition’s EV policy that aimed to make half of all new cars sold in Australia electric by 2030, claiming it would be “the end of the weekend”.
Speaking to journalists on Tuesday, Morrison denied campaigning against EVs during the last election saying any suggestion otherwise was “a Labor lie”.