Woah, now: New Aussie PM dissolves climate change committee, freezes renewables funding
posted at 5:01 pm on September 22, 2013 by Erika Johnsen
It simply isn’t fashionable these days for any self-importantly “forward-thinking” democratic bureaucracy to be without some sort of designated climate change agency or committee to come up with exciting new ways the country can divert its revenues and resources toward so-called green projects. (“Forward thinking” got the quotation-marks treatment because it is truly miraculous how often these usually progressive-leaning governments love to think ahead on climate change, but not so much on debts and deficits.)
Earlier this month, however — amid higher taxes, a slowing economy, and a wildly unpopular tax on carbon emissions — the Australian national election yielded a changeover from six years of Labor Party rule to the relatively conservative Liberal Party. Their new Prime Minister Tony Abbot is already moving forward with one of his promises to streamline the government bureaucracy and cut down on expenditures, and the country’s environmentalist interests are not at all pleased with one of the ways he’s going about it:
The Climate Commission has been scrapped and billions of dollars in renewable energy funding effectively frozen as the Abbott government moved swiftly to wind back Australia’s climate change response, as promised.
Outgoing chief commissioner Tim Flannery, who was told yesterday morning he had lost his $180,000-a-year, part-time role, said abolishing the publicly funded body was “the government’s prerogative” but he would not be silenced. …
Scrapping the Climate Commission is expected to save taxpayers $580,000 this financial year and $1.6 million in following years. …
The changes to the commission came as the government pursued plans to wind up the $10 billion Clean Energy Finance Corporation, created by Labor to fund renewable energy projects that would otherwise struggle to get commercial backing.
The commission was only just created in 2011 by previous Prime Minister Julia Gillard, and he isn’t even doing away with governmental climate-change analysis — he’s merely handing the job back over to his Department of the Environment. Still, I imagine, this won’t make him a favorite with the international set; how will he ever show his face at the United Nations?
Too often, progressive governments rush forward into bolstering untested and even market-rejected energy projects and quotas in the name of green energy, which then actually end up scooting the government further into debt while jacking up energy prices for consumers and making people poorer. Robust economies, not top-down ideological fiat, are the only things that are ever going to bring about the innovations and efficiencies the world needs to get more out of its natural resources and develop alternative technologies — so we should all probably quit willfully tanking those economies, no?
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