April 2, 2019 / 8:38 AM / 16 days ago

Australia government proposes new fund to meet emission reduction targets

FILE PHOTO - Protesters demanding action on climate change gather in Melbourne, Australia March 15, 2019. REUTERS/Sonali Paul

CANBERRA, (Reuters) - Australia’s conservative government on Tuesday announced billions of dollars in funding to cut carbon emissions in a pre-election pitch to entice voters increasingly frustrated with climate policy inaction.

In its budget, the government announced a A$3.5 billion ($2.5 billion) ‘Climate Solutions Package’ to help reduce emissions by 2030.

Opinion polls show the ruling Liberal-National coalition led by Prime Minister Scott Morrison is headed for defeat by the centre-left Labor Party in a federal election set to be held next month.

The government’s internal divisions over climate change and energy policy have been a weakness amongst urban voters in particular, who want to see action taken to reduce emissions.

“Our commitments will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, ensure Australia meets its international climate targets and address local environment challenges, while maintaining a strong economy,” Environment Minister Melissa Price said.

A further A$137 million has been earmarked for environmental protection projects, threatened species, restoration of coastal land and waterways and waste recycling.

Australia’s A$1.9 trillion economy is heavily dependent on resources with coal and iron ore its top export earners.

Higher commodity prices in recent years has boosted the government coffers, helping deliver an estimated budget surplus of A$7.1 billion for the year ending June 2020.

“The 2019/20 budget assists our transition towards a low carbon economy and provides practical environmental solutions that will benefit future generations,” Price said. (Reporting by Swati Pandey; Editing by John Mair) ((swati.pandey@thomsonreuters.com; +61 2 9321 8166; Reuters Messaging: swati.pandey.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net; twitter.com/swatisays))

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