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Budget 2022: Climate economist left 'gobsmacked' by lack of funding

Composite image of Scott Morrison holding a lump of coal in Parliament and heavy machinery at a coal mine.
The Government has been criticised for its lack of spending to mitigate the impact of climate change. (Source: AAP)

A senior climate economist has been left “gobsmacked” after the Federal Government declined to include “meaningful” funding in its 2022 Budget to tackle the crisis.

Just 2 billion or 0.3 per cent of the Budget is expected to be allocated to climate spending, with that likely to drop to 1.3 billion or 0.1 per cent by 2025.

Nicki Hutley from the non-profit Climate Council described the Government's effort as “tossing pennies”.

“They’ve literally put nothing new in here,” she said.

“When we’re called out by the ... Solomon Islands, the EU or even the UK as climate pariahs, they are absolutely right.”

Focus on climate risks vital

With renewed evacuations in Lismore due to flooding, and the impact of extreme weather set to cost the Government billions, Hutley had hoped more funding would be allocated towards mitigation.

“I mean, it's just gobsmacking that we can be facing a crisis … and there is not one single new meaningful initiative towards climate adjustment,” she said.

Damaged household items litter the street after flooding.
The damage bill from recent flooding in NSW and Queensland is expected to be in the billions. (Source: AAP)

“It’s beyond disappointment. I’m deeply upset. This needs to be called out.

"They've announced a lot of things for households, small business, they’ve tried to paint a pretty picture of a strong economy, but how can you have a strong economy if you don’t talk about climate risks?"

Fuel excise cut 'doesn't make sense'

Hutley contrasted the Government’s spending on climate with the multiple billions of dollars spent on disaster funds, including emergency relief and mental health.

“If you do any sensible cost-benefit analysis, we’re paying these massive costs and nothing that's addressing the root cause of climate change,” she said.

“It doesn't make sense.”

Hutley criticised what she described as "scarce mention" of the transition away from fossil fuels.

“In fact, there's a further $50 million ... earmarked to accelerate gas projects,” she said.

While many Australians will welcome the cut to the fuel excise, Hutley has been left frustrated.

She believes the $5 billion could have been better spent on electric vehicle infrastructure and purchase initiatives, along with public transport.

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