State Budget 2015: First steps towards climate action. Comprehensive plan needed.

wind_energy.jpgFriends of the Earth media release. May 5, 2015

Friends of the Earth today welcomed the Victorian Government’s commitment to renewable energy through its $20 million New Energy Fund and the $200 million Future Industries Fund, which identifies new and emerging technologies that will be supported, including renewables.

"Communities around the state, such as Woodend, Yackandandah and Newstead, are declaring their own renewable energy targets. The $20 million fund will support community aspirations for energy independence, and help get projects built on the ground," said Friends of the Earth campaigns co-ordinator Cam Walker.

“The Andrew’s government has acted quickly to remove the policy roadblocks that brought renewable energy development to a halt under the Coalition. Public funding to support community controlled initiatives is another important aspect of the action we will need if our state is to again be a leader in responding to climate change”.

“We are heartened to see the commitment to get Victoria back in front after action on climate change had been side lined under the Coalition.

"We look forward to seeing the detail on the Andrew’s government's Renewable Energy Action Plan, due for release later this year. There are over 2,000MW worth of shovel-ready wind farm projects in Victoria. And we look forward to the government's plans to help secure finance and create jobs in the regions."

“While we are encouraged to see that there is no new specific allocation to fossil fuel R&D, it is essential that the government clarify its policy on further uses of brown coal and rule out any new coal or onshore gas developments”.

“Significant funds have been allocated in the budget to new public transport infrastructure, including new lines, and train and tram construction and upgrades. This is exactly the type of investment we need in Victoria. For maximum impact, announcements of major public transport infrastructure need to be guided and framed by a state wide integrated transport plan that priortises public transport over new major roads.”

“In this first budget, the government has largely finished delivering its election promises. What is needed now is a comprehensive climate and environment plan for the next few years, which will see the start of a complete transition away from our current reliance on brown coal to meet our energy needs, and permanent protection of our farmland from the invasive onshore gas industry.

“With the Abbott government undermining the national Renewable Energy Target (RET), the state government needs to provide leadership by setting a Victorian RET (a VRET) to drive the investment we need in renewable technologies”.

The government has announced the creation of a Climate Change Action Plan to help reduce emissions and help communities adapt to climate change.

“We welcome the government’s commitment to equity and fairness and the need for an inclusive and diverse community. This budget was always going to be about finalising the ALP’s pre election commitments, and so has focused on health, education and protection of the vulnerable. All of these are necessary for a dignified and civilised society”.

 

Other welcome measures:

  • $200 m for the Future Industries Fund
  • $30 m for the response to the Hazelwood mine fire. It is excellent to see funding for the long term study into the health impacts of the mine fire
  • We welcome the commitment to review and strengthen the Victorian Renewable Energy Target (VEET)
  • A small increase in funding for Parks Victoria. This is a good start
  • Support for the business Plan for the Mernda rail line
  • Commitments to complete the planning of the Metro Rail Project and commence construction by 2018
  • Commitment to extend the Bendigo metro rail network
  • Expansion of the bus network
  • A commitment to get 8GL of additional environmental flow into the Thomson River
  • $10 m to improve management of streamside land
  • $2.5 m to improve the health of the Gippsland Lakes system
  • $3.9 m to improve irrigation practises
  • $2 m for Ethical Clothing Australia
  • A commitment to examine how country of origin labelling is enforced in the fresh food sector.

 

Further comment: Cam Walker 0419338047