The Climate Council say this has been the worst Christmas present ever as the Federal Government announces support for new fossil fuel projects.
They also say that the Federal Government has kept up its annual tradition of trying to hide its many climate failures by announcing — two days before Christmas and in the middle of a national bushfire emergency — that it will underwrite two new gas-fired power stations.
The Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction Angus Taylor has given initial support for a 130-megawatt gas plant in Queensland, and a 220-MW project in Victoria.
The government has also signalled it could fund more coal and gas projects down the track.
Climate Councillor and Emeritus Professor, ANU Fenner School of Environment & Society, Professor Will Steffen, said as many Australians choke through an unprecedented bushfire crisis, the Federal Government is supporting new fossil fuel projects that will drive further climate change, worsening bushfires and other extreme weather events.
‘People have lost their lives and homes,’ he said. ‘Much of our irreplaceable natural heritage has been destroyed, and communities are suffering serious economic losses because of these unprecedented bushfires.
‘But the government is still failing to tackle the root cause of this worsening problem.’
Professor Steffen said federal politicians have finally acknowledged the influence of climate change on this crisis. ‘But this acknowledgement is meaningless if they keep backing fossil fuel projects instead of delivering the urgent and significant emissions cuts we need,’ said Steffen.
Head of Research, Climate Council, Dr Martin Rice said that the Federal Government has a shameful track record of attempting to fly under the radar and avoid scrutiny by making climate-related announcements before major holidays. ‘Announcing its support for new fossil fuel projects at Christmas is more of the same tactic.
‘All Australians want for Christmas is a government that responds to growing public concern about climate change with credible policies that deliver deep, rapid cuts in greenhouse gas emissions and moves the economy beyond fossil fuels to clean, safe renewable energy,’ he said.
‘Instead, our out-of-touch Federal Government is putting lives, our economy and the natural environment at risk by approving coal and gas projects that will increase our carbon pollution and make extreme weather events like these bushfires even worse.’
Giving us coal for Christmas, the government has an historical track record of December cheer:
● 24 DECEMBER 2014: Federal Government releases quarterly emissions data on Christmas Eve (6 months late)
● 24 DECEMBER 2015: Federal Government releases quarterly emissions data on Christmas Eve (6 months late)
● 22 DECEMBER 2016: Federal Government releases two sets of quarterly emissions data the week before Christmas (6 and 9 months late)
● DECEMBER 2017: Federal Government releases quarterly emissions data, Emissions projections 2017 and the 2017 Climate Policy review the week before Christmas
● DECEMBER 2018: Federal Government releases 2018 Emissions projections in the week before Christmas, and refuses to rule out investing in coal or gas
● DECEMBER 2019: On 23 December the Federal Government announces initial support for two new fossil fuel plants as Australia is pummelled by bushfires, extreme heat and drought.