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Federal Budget 2022-23: What does it mean for the environment?
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Federal Budget 2022-23: What does it mean for the environment?

The Federal Treasurer’s Budget speech opened with emotion. The recent flooding disasters were mentioned by the Federal Treasurer’s Budget speech with emotion. However, the budget allocation to address the root cause of floods, climate change was not considered to be a priority. Notably, although $6 billion was allotted for disaster relief and rebuilding flood-affected areas in the United States, very little was allocated for long-term climate resilience and adaptation investment.

In acknowledging Australia is on the pathway to Net Zero by 2050, the Treasurer reiterated the Prime Minister’s rhetoric – ‘Technology, not taxes, will get us there’. The technological solutions include a $20 billion allocation for low-emission technologies. This includes investments in renewable projects and microgrids that support remote and regional communities. These are the funded energy projects:

  • $565.8 million for international partnerships in low-emission practical projects
  • $275.5 Million to support up to 4 additional hydrogen hubs
  • $263.7 million to accelerate development of Carbon Capture Use and Storage
  • $59.6 Million to support a National Soil Carbon Innovation Challenge, and to trial new agricultural feed technologies that lower emissions from livestock;
  • $316.7 Million to assist businesses and industry in reducing their emissions.

The Budget Speech included promotion of the Recycling Modernisation fund, which aims to reduce landfill waste by 10 million tonnes per year by 2030. This is done by improving recycling in Australia rather than exporting it. This includes:

  • $30 million in funding for the extension of the Recycling Modernization Fund in regional areas
  • An additional $4.4 million was allocated to support the implementation of Australia’s waste export ban.
  • Through the ‘ReMade Australia’ brand, more than $8 million has been raised to support the remanufacturing segment.

A $29.3 million allocation has been made for the strengthening of Federal 1999 Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act This is primarily about streamlining approvals for major project (and has been criticized as being a green-light for development rather than an improvement on biodiversity or other matters of national importance).

A further:

  • $22.3 million has been included in the budget for funding farmers to restore and preserve native habitat. It is not clear if this will be part the recently criticised carbon offset programme. Also, it is unclear if any of this budget allocation will be used to improve the carbon accounting and regulation of this important sector.
  • $9.1 Million is allocated to a concentration on the valuation of natural resources;
  • $100 million for projects that provide grants to marine parks or investments in blue carbon projects.

While the Australian Council of Recycling welcomed the large spend in the waste sector’s sector, the ACF described the Budget priorities to the environment as ‘out of line with the massive challenges of real life’.

Perhaps the best way to express the allocation of climate change funds is as a percentage. The Climate Council CalculatedClimate change initiatives received 0.3% of total spending for 2021-2024, and 0.2% for 2024-2026. It is disappointing that not more meaningful Budget commitments were made to climate change initiatives, given the severity of the weather impacts in Australia and the public commitment made at Glasgow COP.

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