Paid to pollute | Environment Victoria

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Paid to pollute

Fossil fuel subsidies are one of the biggest barriers to fighting climate change. So we're leading a sustained national campaign to end fossil fuel subsidies in Australia.

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What is a fossil fuel subsidy? 

A fossil fuel subsidy is any government action that lowers the cost of fossil fuel energy (coal, petroleum or gas) production or consumption or raises the price received by energy producers.

The government subsidies essentially make fossil fuels cheaper than they would otherwise be, leading to a greater use of fossil fuels than would occur with a level playing field. Fossil fuel subsidies therefore represent a significant barrier to action on climate change, both internationally and in Australia. According to Fatih Birol, Chief Economist at the International Energy Agency (IEA), eliminating these subsidies would provide half the carbon emissions savings required to keep climate change below 2 degrees. 

In its World Energy Outlook 2012, the IEA called for the phase out of fossil fuel subsidies globally concluding that “in 2011, fossil-fuel consumption subsidies worldwide are estimated to have totalled $523 billion, $111 billion higher than in 2010. By comparison, financial support to renewable energy amounted to $88 billion in 2011.”1  

An important next step for action on climate change is to stop paying companies to pollute. With debate around the future of the carbon price and the possible introduction of the Emissions Reduction Fund, the Federal Government has a great opportunity to plug a hole in the budget while simultaneously providing emissions reductions at zero cost to the government.

Highlighted below are four of the largest fossil fuel subsidies that should be targeted for removal in the 2014-15 Federal Budget. Cutting just these Big 4 subsidies would deliver budget savings of around $10 billion per year, while cutting other smaller federal subsidies could deliver a further $1 billion annually. Other fossil fuel subsidies also exist at the state level.

Big polluters like to argue that the measures we’re saying are subsidies are not actually subsidies. Unfortunately for them, the World Trade Organisation agrees with us.



 

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The Big 4: Australia’s most expensive, wasteful and polluting fossil fuel subsidies


1. Paying the fuel bill for big mining companies – around $2 billion a year


The average Australian pays 38 cents of tax per litre of fuel. But big mining companies operating in Australia pay just 6c a litre. Instead of paying their fair share, they get a massive tax refund costing the Australian taxpayer around $2 billion a year. 2

 
2. Subsiding cheaper fuel for airlines – $5 billion over four years

 

Australian taxpayers are funding cheap fuel for big airline companies like Qantas and Virgin. If these companies paid their own way it would literally save us billions3, and the airlines would have more incentive to be more fuel efficient, meaning less pollution.

 
3. Special tax treatment for big oil, coal and gas projects – more than $2 billion over the next four years

 

The coal, oil and gas sectors get special treatment under Australia’s tax system allowing them to depreciate their assets like drilling rigs and pipelines over a much shorter period than they are actually in use. Detailed analysis by the Australian Conservation Foundation found that this legal tax dodge for big oil, gas and coal projects is costing the rest of us billions, and it’s growing. 4

Thanks to the Paid to Pollute campaign, the Federal Government reduced this loophole at the budget in May 2013, saving Australian taxpayers $1.1 billion over the next four years, but there is still another $1 billion being lost to big polluters.

 

4. Handouts to Australia’s dirtiest power stations - $1 billion in 2013-14


The carbon price is an important reform that is starting the transition to a cleaner Australian economy.

However one part of the carbon price package represented a massive payday for polluters. Under the Energy Security Fund, Australia’s dirtiest power stations have been receiving around $1 billion in assistance annually.5 These payments should be scrapped to allow the carbon price to send a clear signal to companies to reduce their pollution.

 


Take actionDonate

 

 

 


MORE RESOURCES

 

READ OUR PRE-BUDGET BRIEFING PAPER ON FOSSIL FUEL SUBSIDIES >

 

VIEW THE PRESENTATION FROM THE 2013 PAID TO POLLUTE CAMPAIGN LAUNCH HERE > 

 

READ ENVIRONMENT VICTORIA'S 2013/14 FEDERAL BUDGET SUBMISSION HERE > 

 


 

1. International Energy Agency, World Energy Outlook 2012, p.69

2. ANAO Audit Report No.49 2010-11, Fuel Tax Credits Scheme, p.73. http://www.anao.gov.au/Publications/Audit-Reports/2010-2011/Fuel-Tax-Cre...
3. Commonwealth of Australia, Treasury, Tax Expenditures Statement 2013, January 2014, p.153. http://www.treasury.gov.au/Treasury%20Home/PublicationsAndMedia/Publicat...
4. Australian Conservation Foundation, September 2011. Drill now, Pay Later: The growing cost of tax breaks for the oil and gas industry in Australia.
5. Value of Free Carbon Units to be issued by the Clean Energy Regulator under the Coal-fired Generation Assistance Program.

 

 

Call for more money for Vic mine clean-up

16 April 2014
The Australian

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Wimmera River health information online

26 February 2014
Matt Coughlan, Wimmera Mail-Times

A NEW online database released by Environment Victoria will provide information on the health of the Wimmera’s rivers.

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Heat to rise on Hazelwood

21 February 2014
Latrobe Valley Express

THE management of the Hazelwood mine and its regulation by government is expected to come under fierce scrutiny in coming weeks, as questions arise over the mine's fire preparedness prior to...

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Point Henry closure to impact Valley

20 February 2014
Latrobe Valley Express

Alcoa's decision to close its Point Henry aluminium smelter at Geelong, at the cost of 500 direct jobs, will likely cause a ripple effect through Latrobe Valley's electricity...

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Alcoa plant closure delivers another blow to coal power industry

18 February 2014
Sophie Vorrath, Renew Economy

US-based aluminium giant Alcoa has announced that it will close its Point Henry smelter in Geelong, Victoria, as well as two rolling mills...

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Bid for coal a 'blight on the ground'

17 February 2014
Farrah Plummer, Latrobe Valley Express

A MOVE from AGL to retain the rights of an estimated two billion tonnes of brown coal extends a period of uncertainty for about 30 landholders in Flynn.

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AGL moves to keep rights over Latrobe brown coal

30 January 2014
Tom Arup, The Age

Energy giant AGL has applied to retain the rights over an estimated 2 billion tonnes of brown coal in the Latrobe Valley allocated to a lower-emissions power plant that was...

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The Victorian Government refuses to delay the water plan as demanded by environmental groups

29 January 2014
Chris McLennan, Weekly Times

PUBLIC forums will start today on new state water laws after the Victorian Government refused demands from environmental...

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Heatwave sparks record-breaking water use in Melbourne households

29 January 2014
Rachel Wells, The Age

Melbourne households used a record amount of water earlier this month, when daily average consumption reached 255 litres a person - the highest since...

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Surge of activity could see Victoria playing mine host

23 January 2014
Jason Dowling, The Age

Victoria could soon boast a new commercial iron ore mine amid a surge of mining activity.

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