Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has come under fire from the opposition and investors after ordering the government’s A$10 billion (US$7.45 billion) Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) to stop investing in wind and energy solar power.
Abbott, who has described wind farms as “visually awful” and made no secret of his desire to axe the CEFC put in place by the previous Labor Party government, argued the funds would be put to better use in less established clean technology.
But opposition politicians, investors and green groups said the move would further isolate Australia ahead of talks in Paris in December aimed at securing a United Nations climate deal.
Australia is one of the world’s biggest carbon emitters on a per capita basis but last year scrapped a carbon tax and an emissions trading plan, arguing they would burden for industry, and recently cut the country’s renewable energy target.
“The best thing that the Clean Energy Finance Corporation can do is invest in new and emerging technologies, the things that might not otherwise get finance,” Abbott said on Monday, a day after announcing the move. “That’s why we’ve got this draft direction there.”
Windfarms are Australia’s No 2 renewable energy source, behind hydropower but ahead of solar, providing a quarter of the country’s clean energy and 4 per cent of its total energy demand.