Morrison Pledges $2B for Emissions Fund

February 24, 2019 Updated: February 24, 2019

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has unveiled a $2 billion Climate Solutions Fund aimed at taking direct action on climate change.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has always been confident Australia will meet its emissions reduction targets because he knew the government had a new A$2 billion ($1.4 billion) fund up its sleeve.

Morrison on Monday, Feb. 25, announced the 10-year Climate Solutions Fund in a major speech outlining the coalition’s action to cut carbon emissions.

It will extend the Abbott government’s “direct action” Emissions Reduction Fund set up in 2014 for a range of carbon abatement programs, from vegetation management to energy efficiency and transport.

“This is a continuation of those programs, that’s why I’ve always been so confident,” the prime minister told Sky News.

“And why am I so confident? Because the 2020 targets—we will exceed by over 400 million tonnes.”

Morrison says the climate solutions package will ensure Australia meets its 2030 target of lowering emissions from 2005 levels by 26 to 28 per cent by 2030. The new fund will partner with farmers, local governments, and businesses to deliver practical climate solutions to reduce emissions by 103 million tonnes by 2030.

“That’s no slouch of a commitment or achievement,” he told the media in Melbourne. “We will continue to play our part in meeting the global challenge of climate change in the 21st century and we can hold our heads high in what we are doing.

“And we will not, and I will not, allow others to talk down what Australia is achieving in this area.”

The prime minister says Australia won’t have to use foreign carbon credits to meet the emissions targets, unlike New Zealand.

But Labor’s climate spokesman Mark Butler says the opposition will scrap the fund if it wins the election.

The fund is a “failed policy” as emissions have been increasing in recent years and are projected to keep doing so, he added.

“We would scrap it because these sorts of activities should be paid for by the private sector,” Butler told ABC’s Radio National.

Morrison will contrast the coalition’s plan with Labor’s 45 per cent emissions reduction target by 2030.

“Sure you can have higher targets. But they come at a tremendous cost. A cost far worse than the carbon tax Labor said they wouldn’t introduce, but they did and our government had to abolish,” the prime minister said.

He said his government would continue to play its part in meeting the global challenge of climate change but “without taking a sledgehammer to our economy.”

“We need reliable power, as well as renewable,” he told Nine news. “I’m not going to join the Labor Party who sees the global market for our biggest mineral export facing some real problems as being wonderful.”

Morrison said Labor’s plan was a “carbon tax on steroids.”

“Labor’s emissions target will cost everyone $9,000 a year,” he said. “That’s what the independent assessment came out and said last week.”

Morrison rejected claims the fund is a price on carbon, insisting it’s “not a price, it’s an investment.”

Some moderate Liberals had lobbied for $1 billion be put into the Emissions Reduction Fund, fearing the government needed to do more to tackle climate change.

Climate policy has been a highly contentious issue within the coalition, with the issue playing a significant role in the campaigns of former Liberals challenging sitting MPs and the tensions which led to Malcolm Turnbull being dumped.

By Matt Coughlan and Rebecca Gredley