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Renewables miss out on Govt funding: report -

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Renewables miss out on Govt funding: report

The World Today - Tuesday, 18 March , 2008 12:18:00

Reporter: Sarah Clarke

ELEANOR HALL: The Federal Government is promising tough action on climate change but a study has
found that the big government-controlled investment funds are not doing their bit for the
environment.

The report which was commissioned by the Australian Conservation Foundation found that funds worth
$200-billion are putting nearly 50 times more money into fossil fuel and uranium mining than into
renewable energy.

Climate groups say the vast difference in funding priorities is contrary to plans by both federal
and state governments to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Environment reporter Sarah Clarke has more.

SARAH CLARKE: The report is titled "Responsible Public Investment in Australia" and takes a closer
look at 36 federal, state and territory run investment funds

Their total value is worth around $206 billion in assets.

What the study found was many of the larger government run funds are investing 50 times as much in
fossil fuels as they do in renewable power.

Alan Lazarus is an investment consultant and the report author.

ALAN LAZARUS: We've looked at the government investment processes in Australian and we've looked at
the participants. We've looked at government superannuations fund, some of the bigger government
investment houses and we've looked at Long Service Leave boards and government insurers, just to
get some sense of where government entities are in terms of adopting best practice investment
management.

And we've found there's probably opportunities to improve realy.

SARAH CLARKE: But the Conservation Foundation which commissioned the report says these government
investments fly in the face of policy positions.

That is - the Federal Government has set in place a plan to cut emissions by 60 per cent by 2050
yet its funds are still investing heavily in the coal industry - spending $47 in fossil fuels for
every dollar spent on solar and wind power.

Simon O'Connor is from the Conservation Foundation.

SIMON O'CONNOR: There's been a strong movement in the private sector superannuation funds to take
up this area of considering the risks of environmental, social and governance factor in investment
decision making.

So that is looking at climate change and how this impacts on investment returns for example. What
it has really brought out is that there is a disparity between the government investment funds and
those in the private sector and that is that the government funds are really lagging behind the
private sector and for example only five of the 36 government funds we found are actually, have
signed up to what is really best practice now and that is the United Nationals principles for
responsible investment.

SARAH CLARKE: The report coincides with a news poll showing 90 per cent of Australians want to
renewable power to get the same if not more government subsidies than those of fossil fuels.

Every year, the coal industry gets a taxpayer funded $300-million discount on its diesel fuel.

Julien Vincent from Greenpeace says that one subsidy alone outweighs the entire federal government
spending on renewable energy And this newspoll indicates it's time for change.

JULIEN VINCENT: Well, essentially it's found that there is overwhelming support for the use of
public money to support renewable energy and energy investment rather than going into polluting
fossil fuels such as coal, gas and oil.

That's actually in contrast to the current situation because right now for every dollar of public
money that is spent n renewable energy and energy efficiency. About 28 times that much is going
into fossil fuel.

It's a situation that's got to change. You know, I mean we've got an era where climate change is a
looming threat and being driven primarily by fossil fuel so you just can not justify the use of
public money to support activities that drive climate change.

ELEANOR HALL: That's Julien Vincent from Greenpeace ending that bu Environment reporter Sarah
Clarke.