Australia Refocus Climate Fund

Australia Refocus Climate Fund

Australia is seeking to cut emissions in one of the world’s biggest per-capita polluters by encouraging oil firms including Chevron Corp. and Woodside Petroleum Ltd. to invest in carbon-reduction projects.

Calls for Prime Minister Scott Morrison to do more to combat climate change got louder after devastating bushfires destroyed thousands of homes this past summer. Morrison has said the country will comfortably meet its international commitments, but progress on emissions reduction has stalled in recent years as a number of heavy-polluting gas export facilities started operations.

The government plans to revamp the A$2 billion ($1.3 billion) Climate Solutions Fund, after an independent report published Tuesday found that stronger action was needed for the country to meet its climate commitments under the Paris Agreement. The fund is part of a A$3.5 billion package to help Australia meet the 2030 goal.

“Key sectors are not projected to have begun significantly reducing emissions by 2030 and concerted effort is needed to unlock the critical, transformative technologies these sectors need,” according to the report, headed by former Origin Energy Ltd. Managing Director Grant King.

The King report’s recommendations “align with the government’s technology-based approach to reducing emissions,” Energy Minister Angus Taylor said in a statement. He will support a proposal to award credits to big facilities for adopting low-emissions technology, which could then be used to meet their climate obligations under the government’s so-called “safeguard mechanism.” That system sets a target limit for a facility’s emissions, above which it must purchase abatement.

Climate groups said the proposal was too soft on big emitters such as Chevron and Woodside, whose giant liquefied natural gas facilities in Western Australia put them both in the country’s top 10 polluters. The government was wasting taxpayer money on unproven CCS technology, said Richie Merzian, climate & energy director at the Australia Institute think tank.