We have the solutions to climate change. Humanity has known for decades that the burning of fossil fuels releases greenhouse gas into the atmosphere which drives atmospheric warming and worsens events such as droughts, bushfires, damaging storms, and rising sea levels.
In knowing the cause of climate change we have developed the solutions such as renewable energy technology, methods to restore and preserve carbon sinks, and sustainable economic models.
We have the solutions to climate change, however what Australia has lacked in the past is the political will to enact them. Friends of the Earth's Act on Climate collective is seeking to change this with the campaign for Victoria's first Climate Budget.
With a modernised state budget, Victoria can invest in the comprehensive actions we know we need to take to mitigate and adapt to climate change impacts, such as intensifying bushfire seasons.
This blog presents a brief overview of the state budget, environmental funding, what a Climate Budget would look like, and why it's sorely needed.
What is the state budget?:
Every year the Victorian state government compiles a budget that outlines how the state’s revenue will be allocated over the following year. The budget is divided into sections, such as Health, Education, and Infrastructure. One such section is the Environment, where the budget allocates funding towards environmental protection, restoration, and management.
Victoria’s state budgets are also themed. When a budget is given a theme, this theme is incorporated into each area of the budget to give it comprehensive framework for funding and action. Previous themes have included tackline family violence, enhancing mental health care, and upgrading infrastructure.
Environment and the State Budget:
Historically Victoria’s budgets have under-committed to the environment and climate change. Despite the environment being essential to the state’s economy through the filtration of drinking water, protecting food security and the agricultural sector, as well as enabling a prosperous tourism industry, the budget has always treated the environment as a low priority.
Climate change, the single greatest threat to humanity, has fared even worse.
In the 2018/19 budget, climate change and the environment are allocated $266 million. This is a massive drop from the 2017/18 budget, in which $798 million was allocated.
The 2018/19 budget also fails to allocate funds exclusively to proactive climate mitigation and adaptation; all climate benefits are folded into funding directed towards different goals. The climate and environment section of the budget takes up slightly more then one column. This, along with the figures, reveal how low of a priority the environment is in the budget process.
This is massively inadequate investment in tackling climate change. Climate change is already impacting Victorians, with worsening bushfires, increasing droughts, damaging weather events, changing seasons impacting crops, and other effects. These events and their impacts will only continue to worsen if the government fails to act.
What is a Climate Budget?:
In order to ensure that climate change is put on the top of the agenda, and that the funding for climate action is measurable and transparent, Act on Climate has proposed the creation of a Climate Budget. This is a budget in which the theme is climate action, and funding towards climate change mitigation and adaptation is incorporated into all sections of the State budget.
The Four Pillars of the Climate Budget:
- Investing in climate action: Making climate change a theme of a state budget would see the state make a down payment on climate change action--from programs to rein in emissions to initiatives to protect communities from climate impacts. A Climate Budget would see the government invest strategically and comprehensively across all areas, from health to infrastructure to agriculture.
- Transparency with expenditure: There is a clear need for expenditure towards climate change mitigation (direct and indirect), adaptation, and disaster response to be measured and made transparent. This means that governments can be held accountable for the value of budget allocations. This analysis would allow policymakers to steer budget allocations towards preventative measures. (An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure).
- Better accounting: A Climate Budget would see the government adopt carbon valuation in the budget process. Modernising the budget in this way would allow the government to make wiser investment decisions, for example: do you build a new hospital that's energy inefficient with no consideration of the carbon footprint or build one that's super efficient and has a smaller carbon footprint. By using carbon valuation methods, the government would have a tool to understand Victoria's 'carbon liabilities' and ensure it isn't left behind the private sector who are now incorporating 'shadow carbon prices' into investment decisions.
- Community driven: Communities are taking action on climate change now. Incorporating community-based leadership and solutions into the Climate Budget, as was achieved in the Victorian Climate Change Innovation Partnerships grant scheme, will strengthen action. With the diverse and complicated impacts the warming climate is having across Victoria having communities take the lead increases the effectiveness of climate solutions.
Securing the Climate Budget:
Investing in climate action is investing in the future of a prosperous Victoria. And failing to invest in climate action means all bets are off.
The Andrews government has strengthened the Climate Change Act 2017, put in place a permanent ban on onshore gas, and enacted a Victorian Renewable Energy Target of 25 percent by 2020 and 40 percent by 2025.
A climate budget is the logical next step for Victoria if it wants to truly be a climate leader.
Act on Climate is calling on all political parties to commit to make a climate change a key theme of a budget over the next term of government (2018 to 2022) to ensure that Victoria has a modern budget that is capable of addressing climate change in a comprehensive and measurable way.
If you want to support the Climate Budget campaign you can do so in the following ways.
- Email Premier Daniel Andrews today to call for him to establish a Victorian Climate Change Action Fund.
- Get involved with the Act on Climate collective by becoming an active member. Meetings are held at Friends of the Earth in Collingwood at 6pm, Monday evenings.
- Support grassroots community action on climate change by making a donation.