The Australian government has announced its invitation for Saudi Arabia and other oil-rich states to invest in Australian green energy initiatives. The Financial Times quotes Greg Hunt, Australia’s Minister of Environment, as saying that the move is a “significant change in tone on renewable energy” for the government of Australia.
Investments in alternative energy plunged under the government of Prime Minister Tony Abbott between September 2013 and September 2015. Abbott famously called the arguments behind climate change “absolute crap” and declared coal “good for humanity.” Abbott also cut plans for a carbon tax in Australia.
In September Michael Turnbull took over the seat of Prime Minister of Australia. One of Turnbull’s goals has been to change the Australian government’s attitude towards green energy – particularly solar and wind power. During Environment Minister Hunt’s visit to Dubai last week, he told Saudi and Emeriti officials “If you have sovereign wealth funds that like to invest in new energy, you might want to look at Australia.”
The Saudi government has stated an interest in diversifying its energy investment portfolio. On November 10, the Saudi government submitted a plan to the UN, before the Paris Summit later this month, to reduce Saudi emissions by diversifying the state’s energy usage. The Saudi government maintains an investment fund worth hundreds of billions of dollars.
Still, while the Australian government’s public tone towards green energy may be changing, policy seems unlikely to see radical changes in the near-term. Hunt has confirmed that the government has no plans to institute a carbon tax or cap and trade scheme in Australia.
The Turnbull government will keep Abbott’s “Direct Action” plan in place, which awards grants to firms reducing emissions. Hunt also plans to introduce proposals for stricter vehicle emissions standards, a national energy efficiency plan and steps to reduce ozone-depleting hydrofluorocarbons.