The 2022 Federal Budget has delivered virtually no funding for climate change initiatives, sparking fresh concerns for WA’s environmental future.
Sustainable Energy Now’s chairperson Ian Porter says the budget should have allocated increased funds to clean energy agencies, such as wind and solar, and other initiatives to cut greenhouse gas emissions such as electric vehicles.
“The fossil fuel industry is the most subsidised industry on the planet. Australia is now the world’s leading liquified natural gas country in the world,” Mr Porter says.
“The budget was a missed opportunity. We need to be investing in renewables like wind, solar and electric vehicles or it’s going to be too late.”Ian Porter
According to the Climate Council, the budget papers contain successive cuts for climate funding over the next four years, with total spending on climate initiatives reducing to just 0.2 per cent of total expenditure.
Western Australia, particularly the South West, is vulnerable to climate change. Experts warn that changing rainfall patterns, rising sea levels and extreme weather events could pose a threat to the state in more ways than we realise.
Economist Nicki Hutley from the Climate Council says Western Australia could experience serious, long-term consequences if immediate action is not taken towards a renewable future.
“WA’s economy is very reliant on the minerals and natural resources, so in the short term, it might present a short boost to the economy. But unless we really pivot towards green economies, we are going to pay for it on so many different fronts,” she says.
“Western Australia has just been through its hottest summer yet. If we think about what this means for the long term, there are impacts of extreme weather events, as well as rising temperatures, coastal erosions, sea-level rising. All these things affect our productivity.
“It’ll also affect the economy, our health systems, people’s ability to work. It affects everything. You can see what’s happening on the east coast with floods right now.”
While funds for action on climate change are limited in the national budget, the costs of climate-fuelled natural disasters are growing exponentially, with $6 billion allocated to flood recovery assistance in Queensland and New South Wales.
“This recovery funding is only going to increase,” Ms Hutley says.
“The cost of extreme weather events over the next couple of decades will get out to something like $80 billion per year, and a third of that is directly related to climate change.”
With a national target to reduce 50 percent of emissions by 2030, Curtin University professor in sustainability Peter Newman says the federal government is taking a huge step backward for Australia in reaching this goal.
“It’s absolutely outrageous that they would be scaling back at a time when they should be doubled and tripled in their ability to help the industry change.
“They’re a government that supports coal, gas and oil and it’s no longer acceptable,” he says.
Ms Hutley also warns that time is ticking to take action against climate change.
“We need to get moving. We have run out of time,” she says.
“The clock is almost at midnight on climate action in terms of emissions in the atmosphere globally. We can’t afford to not only not act, but to be cutting our expenditure.”