Shuffling ideas in an effort to reinvigorate his conservative Liberal-National government with green voters the Australian Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, has detailed a plan under which he will launch a $1 billion Clean Energy Innovation Fund (CEIF) in July.
Mr Turnbull will keep two climate funds that the previous Prime Minister and staunch climate change opponent Tony Abbott went to the 2013 federal election pledging to abolish.
The prime minister announced today that a $1 billion GEIF would be set up in July, jointly managed by the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) and Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).
Those two bodies, which the Liberal-National government has repeatedly attempted to abolish, will now jointly manage the fund from July in order to finance products such as large-scale solar.
Mr Turnbull, a previous supporter of an Emissions Trading scheme (ETS), has been toning down criticism of clean energy financing since ousting Mr Abbott in September.
However, many coalition members remain sceptical about the value of spending too much money on climate-related projects.
Labor has yet to unveil the full details of its policy, which will include a globally linked ETS.
Mr Turnbull said the government would “retain and reinvigorate” the CEFC and ARENA.
“We are promoting innovation and new economic opportunities, enhancing our productivity, protecting our environment and reducing emissions to tackle climate change,” Mr Turnbull said in a statement.
“By offering innovative equity and debt products, the CEIF can accelerate the availability of new technologies to transform the energy market, and deliver better value for taxpayers.”
ARENA will continue to manage its existing portfolio of grants and the $100 million large-scale solar round, but will be told to focus on energy efficiency and low-emissions technology.
The $1 billion CEIF will be established from within the CEFC’s $10 billion allocation and will make available $100 million a year for 10 years.
Mr Turnbull said the government remained committed to reducing Australia’s emissions by 26 to 28 per cent by 2030.
Seemingly unaware of the Prime Ministers plans the Environment Minister Greg Hunt said on Monday the government had made “no change in the policy” to axe the CEFC.
However, federal cabinet agreed to the policy at a meeting in Sydney on Tuesday.
The legislation to abolish the CEFC has been twice rejected by the Senate and is a double-dissolution trigger.
But Mr Turnbull said he did not intend to use it as a trigger.
Mr Abbott was forced to keep ARENA in place in exchange for the Palmer United Party’s support to bring in the Coalition’s Direct Action plan.
The major parties are engaged in a faux election campaign ahead of parliament resuming in April to deal with workplace laws that could become a July 2 double-dissolution trigger if they are blocked.
Two new polls show a tightening gap between the Liberal-National coalition and Labor.
A Seven News-ReachTel poll puts the two-party figure at 52-48, while the Essential poll has the parties at 50-50.