Budget 2014: Emissions Reduction Fund anyone?
So the budget is down and the hammer falls on the environment.
But apart from slashing renewables and cancelling the solar program, the Government has also reduced funding allocated to the Emissions Reduction Fund in the early years before abatement is delivered. This was a risk we identified when MYEFO was handed in December and the ERF was not formally budgeted.
So a $2.5b commitment translates to just $1.1b over the forward estimates (4 years):
The Government maintains that the full $2.5b will be contracted in the first 4 years. But will we see the touted $1b per year after that? If a few big industrial projects soak up the fund with quick fire energy projects there may not be much left for the land sector. No money is allocated to administer the fund which will be a lot of extra work for the Clean Energy Regulator.
Given the lack of funds available, perhaps the Government is waiting to purchase overseas credits at a much cheaper price at the last minute to make the 5% target in 2020.
The broader picture of support for Indigenous land management is less clear. Working on Country appears to have been preserved but we need to see the detail of over $500m in savings from Indigenous programs.
All of this emphasises a flavour from the CMI Summit last week – that there’s no point relying on Government, we need to get on and forge our own ways to fix the environment. Fair Carbon!