2021 budget fails to fund clean recovery, says Climate Council

Power station in Victoria, Australia.

The Climate Council has criticised the federal government’s newly released 2021/22 Budget on its failure to fund a clean recovery from Covid-19. The council described the government’s “lost opportunity to create jobs” as a “national shame”.

How 2021 budget plans to reduce emissions

Exactly what is the government doing to move the country towards a more sustainable future? In the 2021/ 22 Budget, it outlined how it will spend money to reduce emissions. As part of this, the federal government intends to put:

  • $275.5 million towards four more hydrogen production hubs
  • $263.7 million towards accelerating the development of carbon capture and storage technologies
  • $59.6 million to support a ‘National Soil Carbon Innovation Challenge’ and to help reduce emissions from farm animals.

In addition, the government’s budget pledges $58.6 million towards gas infrastructure projects. 

Climate Council spokesperson and economist, Nicki Hutley says investing in hydrogen hubs and carbon capture simply isn’t good enough. She says, “Among major economies and our strategic allies, Australia is right at the bottom of the pack when it comes to spending on solutions that reduce emissions, create jobs and strengthen our economy.”

On the creation of jobs, the Australia Institute says, “the gas industry is one of the least labour intensive industries in the entire economy, and so will create few jobs.” 

Indeed, in his report for the institute, principal adviser, Mark Ogge says that despite being the world’s largest exporter of liquefied natural gas, the oil and gas extraction industry employs less than 0.14% of all Australian workers. He says that in a room of 700 Australian workers, on average only one would be employed in gas mining.

Two per cent of pandemic spending put towards reducing emissions

The Climate Council also pulled the government up for putting too little of its COVID-19 recovery spending towards reducing emissions - just 2%, according to the Global Recovery Observatory.

This is a small number compared to other countries, including Germany and France who have allocated 47% and 50% of their respective recovery budgets for clean solutions.

Hutley says the Climate Council outlined a Clean Jobs Plan last year that proposed to create 76,000 clean jobs. 

“All of these jobs represented a significant return on investment and many attracted private sector co-investment. Ignoring this opportunity to bolster economic, environmental and social outcomes is a large misstep,” she says.

Want to read more about the budget? Check out our story on what the 2021 budget means for you.