DeSmog

Climate Science Denial Group CFACT Praises Australia’s War on Renewables

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Bravo Australia,” came the cry earlier this week from one US-based climate science denial group.

The Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow was reacting to the latest efforts by the Australian Government to stifle its renewable energy industry.

For a country that claims to be a “good global citizen” on climate change, the support from an organisation that claims human-caused climate change is largely a hoax should be seen as a major embarrassment.

CFACT sent an email to supporters saying “you’ve got to hand it to the Aussies” after conservative Prime Minister Tony Abbott ordered a government-backed clean energy funding institution to stop financing wind farms and small-scale solar energy projects.

The Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) has said it is taking legal advice on whether the mandate from the government complies with the laws that were passed when the corporation was formed. 

Analyst Tristan Edis, of Climate Spectator, suggested the government had effectively asked the corporation to break the law.

Environment Minister Greg Hunt claimed the government was still a supporter of renewables, but the backing of a group like CFACT tells a different story.

The CFACT email, from the group’s executive director Craig Rucker, congratulated Abbott for describing wind farms as “visually awful” and for being the only country in the world to have scrapped a price on the greenhouse gas emissions causing climate change.

The CEFC was set up in July 2012 by the previous Labor government with $10 billion to finance renewables and clean energy technologies.

The Abbott Government has been unable to carry out a pre-election pledge to scrap the corporation after failing to win enough votes in Australia’s upper house.

The CEFC has put $1.4 billion into clean energy projects since announcing its first investments in July 2013. The corporation expects a seven per cent return on the investments and says for every $1 it has invested, it has attracted a further $3 of private funding.

The CFACT email incorrectly described the move as Australia putting a stop to “subsidies” for wind power, when in fact the corporation does not provide subsidies, but financing.

Abbott claimed his minister would order the CEFC to stop funding wind farms and small solar projects because these were “mature technologies” and so didn’t need government support.  Instead, the CEFC should concentrate on funding emerging technologies.

But as far as we know, there’s been no mandate placed on the Export Finance and Investment Corporation, another major government-backed funding institution that, according to one report, provided $1.39 billion in financing for coal projects between 2009 and 2014.

If the Abbott Government’s rationale is that “mature” technology should not get government support, then either the Abbott Government thinks digging holes in the ground is new technology or there’s something else going on.

In an interview with climate science denialist radio host Alan Jones, Abbott revealed that a recent cut to Australia’s renewable energy target had been partly motivated by a desire to reduce the number of wind farms being built in the country.  Abbott’s Treasurer, Joe Hockey, thinks wind farms are “appalling”.

CFACT formed the rump of a delegation of climate science deniers who travelled to Rome earlier this year in a failed attempt to dissuade the Pope from calling for a rapid phase-out of fossil fuels.

This is not the first time that CFACT has lauded the “efforts” of Australia – the world’s second largest exporter of coal behind Indonesia.

During the 2013 United Nations climate talks in Warsaw, DeSmog reported how CFACT communications director Marc Morano said other countries should follow the Australian example. 

At the time, Morano claimed, “coal is the moral choice”.

A year later, Abbott said: “coal is good for humanity”.

Image credit: Flickr/Indigo Skies

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