Australian budget hands emissions reduction fund another year of funding

The Abbott government has provided another year's funding for its major greenhouse gas reduction policy – the emissions reduction fund. The fund, which pays for reverse auctions to buy abatement directly from willing sellers, had been allocated $299.8m in 2015-16 , $354.5m in 2016-17 and $416.9m in 2017-18. The 2015 budget funnels in another $468m in 2018-19.

The fund is critical to any chance Australia has of meeting its target to reduce emissions by 5% by 2020.

At the same time, the government has given a two-year reprieve to the Climate Change Authority – an independent adviser on climate policy it had wanted to abolish.

The Palmer United party insisted on the retention of the authority in a deal struck over the passage of the Coalition's Direct Action climate package, which set up the emissions reduction fund.

The government has now allocated it $6.1m over the next two years but says the money has to come from within the environment department's existing budget.

It has also saved $73m from "efficiencies" in its "green army" scheme and – as it had already announced – is allocating $100m to projects to help protect the Great Barrier Reef, which is facing an imminent decision as to whether it should be placed on the Unesco world heritage "in danger" list.

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