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The polluting power of political donations

1 February 2016

1 February 2016

Federal Treasury on Friday published the 2015 Tax Expenditure Statement (TES), which details the cost of all the various tax-based subsidies under current policy.

It’s by no means a riveting read, and we wouldn’t recommend you trawl through it yourself. Instead, we’ve put in the hard yards and used the TES to update our tax-based fossil fuel subsidies figures. Check out the newly updated table and take action to end government handouts to fossil fuels.

The latest update shows that the Australian government spends approximately $12 billion each year on measures that encourage and support the production and use of fossil fuels. That’s a staggering amount of money to be sinking into an industry that is completely at odds with our international agreement to keep global warming to well below two degrees.

Not only are fossil fuel subsidies helping to fund more climate wrecking greenhouse gas emissions and local environmental disasters, they are also prolonging an industry that no longer makes financial sense.

As international action to transition from fossil fuels to cleaner, more efficient energy solutions increases, fossil fuel producers are facing the death of their business model. Already we’re seeing the structural decline of the thermal coal industry, as demand and prices continue to plummet.

Just when our government should be doing all it can to transition our energy sector to renewable generation, it remains wedded to the dirty and dying fossil fuel industry. $12 billion each year could be used to encourage investment and innovation in clean technologies, or help workers transition from fossil fuel jobs into new industries. Instead it is used to delay the inevitable downfall of the fossil fuel industry that is driving climate change and wreaking havoc on some of our most precious natural areas.

Maybe some insight into why the fossil fuel industry remains so well supported by national and state governments can be gleaned from the latest political donations figures, which were released today. In total, over $870,000 in donations flowed from fossil fuel companies to Labor, the Liberals and the Nationals in the 2014-15 financial year.

We’re not saying that the result of an $870,000 investment by the fossil fuel industry was billions of dollars in handouts and, as most of the donors we account for are oil and gas companies, creating more demand for their products. We’re actually saying the return on these donations is far greater. Just take a look at the minuscule tax many fossil fuel companies pay, or the policy environment designed to keep the fossil fuel sector going even as the need for urgent climate change action increases.

We need our governments, particularly federal, to show some leadership and help make the transition from fossil fuels to a clean energy future as quickly as possible. Looking after their big polluter mates and donors with tax-breaks and handouts is totally at odds with the type of governance we need.

Take this chance to send federal Treasurer Scott Morrison, Assistant Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Finance Minister Mathias Cormann an email, calling on them to stop wasting public money to prop up dirty fossil fuels. Sign the petition below to add your voice.

End polluter handouts

Tell treasurer Morrison to end polluter handouts!