<a href="http://www.greenlifestylemag.com.au/blogs/leon#">The Business of Green</a>

The Business of Green

Money matters in the green world, by Leon Gettler.

Is the environment a winner in the Federal Budget?

Wayne Swan

Credit: Flickr / publik16

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The environment is a big ticket item in the latest Rudd Budget. In his speech, Treasurer Wayne Swan said the Government was investing $4.5 billion in a new Clean Energy Initiative, providing the infrastructure that supports low emission technologies and creating green jobs.

He announced the Government was also setting up Renewables Australia to promote the development, commercialisation and deployment of renewable technologies, four Solar Flagship projects for solar technologies and that it would back carbon capture and storage from coal fired power stations.

Other budget papers, show the Federal Government saying it will also set up an Australia Carbon Trust, an Energy Efficiency trust and establish base departmental funding for the Department of Climate Change at $55.5 million per annum, indexed.

In addition, there are plans, detailed here in this PDF, to position Australia to be a world leader in solar power generation capacity underwritten by $1.5 billion in federal funding. You can read more of the environment budget here.

It looks impressive but some reckon there are problems.

The Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) says companies that make mega profits from mining and burning coal should fund the research into capture and storage. That makes sense.

The ACF has also condemned the government for reducing the number of green loans from 200,000 to 75,000 over five years and for the $4.4 million allocated for a radioactive waste dump in remote Australia. The ACF also questions why the government has kept the fringe benefits tax concession on company cars which only encourages people to drive.

The WWF says the governments move for clean energy is fantastic but maintains that it doesn’t do enough to maintain biodiversity. Species will be lost because of Wayne Swan’s neglect, it says.

Australian Greens Deputy Leader, Senator Christine Milne says this Budget is giving coal a free kick and does nothing to ensure that renewable energy will challenge the dominance of coal

And Greenpeace says that the increased funding for renewable energy is great and long overdue but that the Government is still providing polluters with $7 billion of handouts combined with $2.4 billion to the “fantasy” of clean coal.

Still, I have been covering Australian Government budgets for two decades now and this is the first I’ve seen one that’s made a concerted effort to address climate change and renewable energy. That’s revolutionary. In that sense, we need to put it in some sort of perspective. Besides, you only have to look at the Opposition which is all over the place on issues like the emissions trading scheme.

On the other hand, there is obviously still a lot of work to do and there are areas needing urgent attention that have not yet received it.

How do you feel about the Budget? Do you feel it’s really that green? How serious do you think this government is about tackling the environmental crisis? Has the government done enough or does it need to do more? Tell us your views.