Australian prime minister under fire for ordering bank to stop backing wind, solar

Source: By New Scientist • Posted: Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has ordered the Clean Energy Finance Corp., which funds renewable energy operations in the country, not to invest in wind and small-scale solar energy efforts.

The action is the latest in a slew of measures initiated by Abbott — the leader of the conservative Liberal Party — that have sparked criticism that he is undoing the country’s progress on curtailing emissions. Australia’s per-capita carbon emissions in 2013 were among the highest in the world.

Since he was voted into power in 2013, Abbott has abolished the country’s carbon trading system, dismantled a climate advisory body and lowered the renewable energy target. His recent move to disband the finance body that funds profit-making renewable energy schemes was blocked by a vote in the upper house of Parliament.

A substantial portion of the agency’s investments in 2013-14 were in solar and wind, which has led critics to question Abbott’s motives in passing the order. “If you connect the dots, it appears to be interfering, blocking and trying to impede the flourishment of the wind [and solar] industry,” said Samantha Hepburn from Deakin University in Melbourne. “He’s using regulation and imposing restrictions to try and interfere with the progression of the industry”.