The Australian government said on Wednesday it would establish a A$1 billion ($740 million) fund to encourage investment in new low-emissions technology.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the fund would back Australian early-stage companies to develop new technology.
The Low Emissions Technology Commercialisation Fund would combine A$500 million of new capital for the Clean Energy Finance Corporation with A$500 million from private-sector investors.
“Our plan to reach net zero by 2050 is an Australian one that’s focused on technology, not taxes, and this fund backs in Australian companies to find new solutions,” Morrison said.
Fossil fuel companies welcomed the news. “This fund will help with further development of the technology we need to ensure the economy reaches its target of net zero by 2050,” Andrew McConville, chief executive of the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association (APPEA) said.
“No Change in Our Lifestyle’
He said the fund would help help “deliver a lower carbon, secure energy future with no change in our lifestyle and an economy that continues to do well”.
But critics dismissed the initiative, saying say it would extend the use of dirty fossil fuels.
“The degree of support from APPEA for the Low Emissions Technology Commercialisation Fund is directly proportional to how bad the policy is,” said Dan Cass, energy policy and regulatory lead at the Australia Institute, a Canberra think tank.
The low-emissions technology announcement follows the government’s pledge on Tuesday for A$178 million to ramp up the rollout of hydrogen refuelling and charging stations for electric vehicles.
Morrison said the beefed-up Future Fuels Fund provides “an Australian way” to lower transport emissions, reiterating a slogan he introduced recently to describe the country’s middle ground on climate change policy.
“We will not be forcing Australians out of the car they want to drive or penalising those who can least afford it through bans or taxes,” Morrison said in a statement.
• George Russell