Features of the environment and climate in the 2023 federal budget
The 2023 federal budget promised increased funding and programs supporting climate and environmental initiatives.
This is the first federal budget since the government committed to an emissions reduction target of 43% by 2030 and net zero by 2050 and the release of the State of the environment. The budget contains key funding initiatives aimed at decarbonization, resources to support legislative reform and the implementation of changes to federal environmental laws.
Key points to remember – climate and energy
- The Climate Change Authority will receive funding recognizing its enhanced role under the Climate Change Act 2022;
- $20 billion will be invested in providing low-cost finance to upgrade and modernize the power grid under the Powering Australia plan;
- The Powering the Regions fund will be created with an allocation of $1.9 billion;
- The National Energy Transformation Partnership will receive funding to prioritize critical reforms to accelerate Australia’s energy transformation;
- The AER will receive funding to oversee pipeline regulatory reforms that will limit the market power of pipeline service providers; and
- $141 million will be invested in carbon capture technologies and more than $20 million will be invested to support carbon farming.
Key points to remember – environment
- $117 million will be invested to “support timely environmental decision-making” and the budget of the Ministry of Climate Change, Energy, Environment and Water (DCCEEW) Will be increased;
- $7.8 million for the response to the Samuel Review and the creation of the Federal Environmental Protection Authority;
- $224.5 million for the Saving Native Species program with investments guided by the Threatened Species Action Plan: Toward Zero Extinction; and
- Nearly $100 million will be used to deliver projects that accelerate reef protection and restoration of the Great Barrier Reef.
Climate change The budget allocated the following to address climate change:
- $275.4 million over 6 years to establish the Driving the Nation fund to invest in cleaner transportation;
- $47.1 for the Climate Change Authority;
- $45.8 million over 6 years to increase international engagement on climate change and energy transformation;
- $20.3 million to support carbon farming;
- $15.9 million to engage First Nations people on climate change; and
- $9.3 million to establish the Commonwealth Climate Risk and Opportunity Management Program.
Climate Change Authority
The budget allocated $42.6 million to the Climate Change Authority and introduced an annual climate change statement to parliament to increase transparency around climate-related spending in the budget.
Reduction of emissions in the transport sector
Allocation of budgets to the Driving the Nation fund doubles federal investment in electric vehicle charging, hydrogen fueling infrastructure and fleets to support the energy transition. $500 million will be invested in reducing transportation emissions by building electric vehicle charging infrastructure at 117 road sites and hydrogen highways for key freight routes. $146.1 million over 5 years will also be available for the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (REGION) to co-invest in projects aimed at reducing emissions from the road transport sector.
Carbon farming and carbon capture technologies
The budget allocated $20.3 million to establish the Carbon Farming Outreach Program to help Australian farmers, land managers and First Nations people participate in carbon markets and integrate technologies and practices with low emissions.
The government will provide $8.1 million over 3 years to support the commercialization of seaweed as a low-emission feed for livestock and support other such projects that will reduce barriers to market entry.
$141.1 million over 10 years will be provided as part of an “investment realignment” in carbon capture technologies. Investments will prioritize technology development for hard-to-reduce industrial sectors and technologies for accelerated carbon dioxide removal and negative emissions.
The budget allocated the following to help provide cleaner energy:
- $20 billion for the Rewiring the Nation plan to modernize Australia’s electricity grid;
- $1.9 billion to create the Powering the Regions fund;
- $224.3 million to fund 400 community batteries;
- $157.9 million over 6 years to implement the National Energy Transformation Partnership;
- $102.2 million for community-scale solar and rooftop solar;
- $71.9 million over 7 years to accelerate the development of the green hydrogen sector;
- $63.9 million to support energy storage and power grid capacity;
- $49.5 million over 4 years to increase domestic diesel exhaust fluid safety;
- $22.8 million for Australia’s energy regulator (ARE) simplify the regulation of gas infrastructure use and investment;
- $2.2 million to create a guarantee of origin system; and
- $0.5 million in 2022-23 to support the installation of offshore wind turbines and other renewable energies.
Environment & Water
The budget allocated the following to help reverse environmental decline:
- $1.2 billion to protect and restore the Great Barrier Reef;
- $1.1 billion for water infrastructure projects;
- $224.5 million for the protection of native species;
- $91 million to improve local waterways through the Urban Rivers and Catchment Program;
- $66.5 million to support 10 new Indigenous Protected Areas;
- $14.7 million for the protection of cultural and indigenous heritage sites;
- $10.8 million to improve management of oceans and marine parks;
- $117 million to “support timely environmental decisions” by DCCEEW; and
- $7.8 million to provide a comprehensive response to the Samuel Review and establish an Environmental Protection Agency.
The government will invest $117 million to support timely environmental decision-making by ensuring the DCCEEW can sufficiently process proposals and undertake compliance activities. The money is intended to support the assessment and compliance functions under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cth) (EPBC Act) and the related Disposal at Sea Act. The budget allocates $275.7 million over 4 years and $60.5 million per year to DCCEEW.
The government will also provide $7.8 million in 2022-23 to provide a comprehensive response to the Samuel Review by the end of 2022 and to design an independent Commonwealth Environmental Protection Agency.
Murray-Darling Basin Water Reform
The government will provide seed funding (undisclosed) to meet environmental water targets under the Murray-Darling Basin Plan and funding to respond to the ACCC’s survey of water markets .
The government will also provide $51.9 million over 5 years to strengthen the Murray-Darling Basin plan by updating science to take into account the impacts of climate change.
Investment in water infrastructure
An initial investment of $91.1 million over 6 years will clean up and restore urban waterways.
The government will invest $1.2 billion in water infrastructure through its National Water Grid Fund. New projects starting in Far North Queensland and across Tasmania are expected to increase irrigable land by over 114,855ha. The budget provides $278.1 million over 5 years to increase investments in water infrastructure projects of national significance such as:
- Cairns Water Security Project ($107.5 million)
- Tasmania Pipeline to Prosperity ($100 million);
- Mount Morgan Water Supply Project ($3.5 million); and
- Central Queensland and Burdekin Water Infrastructure Option Plans ($32 million).
The budget also delayed or postponed a number of water infrastructure projects. The $5.4 billion Hells Gates Dam project in Queensland will not proceed, and the $899.5 million funding for Dungowan Dam and Pipeline, Emu Swamp Dam and Pipeline, the Hughenden irrigation system and the Wyangala dam wall elevation projects will be postponed until the projects can be reconsidered once. business cases are completed and assessed.
Great Barrier Reef
The budget will provide $96.9 million over 4 years to implement the Reef 2050 long-term sustainability plan, and $91.8 million over 5 years to deliver projects that accelerate protection and restoration activities reefs.