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Morrison pledges $2 billion for "climate solutions" fund

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Prime Minister Scott Morrison is adamant Australia will meet its emissions reduction targets with the help of a new $2 billion fund, which pays businesses to slash pollution.

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Morrison this morning announced a 10-year Climate Solutions Fund in a major speech outlining the Coalition’s policy to cut pollution.

It will extend the Abbott government’s “direct action” Emissions Reduction Fund, set up in 2014 for a range of carbon abatement programs – from vegetation management to energy efficiency and transport.

Morrison says the package will ensure Australia meets its 2030 target of lowering emissions by 26 to 28 per cent on 2005 levels.

“That’s no slouch of a commitment or achievement,” he said in Melbourne.

“We will continue to play our part in meeting the global challenge of climate change in the 21st century and we can hold our heads high in what we are doing.

“And we will not, and I will not, allow others to talk down what Australia is achieving in this area.”

The new fund will partner with farmers, local governments and businesses in an effort to reduce emissions by 103 million tonnes by 2030.

The prime minister said Australia would not have to use foreign carbon credits to meet its emissions targets.

But Labor’s climate spokesman Mark Butler says the Opposition will scrap the fund if it wins the election.

He described the fund as a “failed policy”.

Emissions have been increasing in recent years and are projected to keep doing so, he added.

“Scott Morrison, the Prime Minister who brought a lump of coal into parliament, has now fully embraced Tony Abbott’s climate policy – a policy that sees taxpayers footing the bill for big polluters,” Butler said in a statement.

Morrison contrasted the Coalition’s plan with Labor’s 45 per cent emissions reduction target by 2030.

“Sure you can have higher targets. But they come at a tremendous cost. A cost far worse than the carbon tax Labor said they wouldn’t introduce, but they did and our government had to abolish,” he said.

Conservationists have criticised the fund as not being equipped to be Australia’s central mechanism for tackling climate change.

“Especially while the federal government continues to facilitate new coal mines and considers using public money to fund new coal-fired power stations,” the Australian Conservation Foundation’s Gavan McFadzean said.

Some moderate Liberals had lobbied for $1 billion to be put into the Emissions Reduction Fund, arguing the government needed to do more to tackle climate change.

Climate policy has been a highly contentious issue within the Coalition, with the issue playing a significant role in the campaigns of former Liberals challenging sitting MPs and the tensions which led to Malcolm Turnbull being dumped.

– AAP

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