Australia’s Export Credit Agency provided more than $ 1.5 billion in financing for fossil fuel projects between 2009 and 2020, about 80 times the amount it spent on renewables, according to a new report.
the research, by Jubilee Australia, examined the transactions of Export Finance Australia (EFA) – formerly known as the Export Finance and Insurance Corporation -, finding that it had provided between $ 1.57 billion and $ 1.69 billion dollars in financing for coal, oil and gas projects, including refinancing.
Over the same 11-year period, spanning the warmest years on record in the world, it provided $ 20 million to support renewable energy projects.
The Jubilee Australia report said that because the agency was operating with limited transparency, it was difficult to get accurate data for all funded projects, signaling that the total dollar amount spent on fossil fuel projects could still be higher.
He finds that some of the funding went directly to projects, such as a $ 254 million loan to Santos in 2011-12 for its Gladstone LNG project. In other cases, the money has gone to companies that provide services to the fossil fuel industry, including engineering and construction.
Jubilee Australia said the refinancing of some projects, including the Ichthys LNG project in northwest Australia, had “worryingly” led to an increase in fossil fuel lending in recent years, after hitting a low of $ 192 million in 2016-17.
“As much of the world moves away from fossil fuel financing, Australia could be one of the few countries still ready to fund new fossil fuel projects,” said Luke Fletcher, Executive Director of Jubilee Australia.
“Over the past decade, more than $ 1 billion in Australian taxpayer-supported money has gone to fund fossil fuel projects at home and abroad.
“Some of the larger projects have lost money or are at risk of becoming stranded assets.”
The Morrison government has come under scrutiny for giving taxpayer support to fossil fuel projects.
Last week he was criticized for using the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility to provide a $ 900 million Olive Downs mine development loan in Queensland’s Bowen Basin.
Labor, Greens and Interbank Senators also recently joined together to ban a controversial instrument drafted by Energy Minister Angus Taylor to allow the Australian Renewable Energy Agency to invest in a wider range of technologies, some of which use fossil fuels.
“I think the big problem Australia faces is that global capital is belatedly recognizing the risk of stranded assets across the fossil fuel industry value chain,” said Tim Buckley of the ‘Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis.
“The Australian government is trying to hold back the tide.”
Trade, Tourism and Investment Minister Dan Tehan said Export Finance Australia has a mandate to provide trade finance to projects that support “a viable Australian export trade when the private market is failing. is unable or unwilling to do so “.
He said funding decisions were based on independent assessment and subject to oversight and approval by the agency’s board.
Tehan said the EFA assesses deals on a case-by-case basis and does not favor certain types of projects over others.
“Between 2015-2016 and 2019-2020, EFA funding for all energy projects represented less than 5% of the total funding provided by EFA,” he said.
But Australia Institute’s Alia Armistead said the Productivity Commission had in the past Noted only a small number of large companies have benefited from agency funding.
She said Australia’s continued subscription to fossil fuel exports with public money was “alarming”.
The progressive think tank published a report in May, which examined the 2020-2021 budget items for federal and all state and territory governments related to fossil fuels, finding that governments were providing industry $ 10.3 billion in spending and tax breaks .
Armistead said Jubilee Australia’s research was another part of that picture.
“The world’s appetite for fossil fuels is waning, but this report alarmingly shows Australia’s determination to continue purchasing fossil fuels for export with public money, even when there is no has no market for them, ”she said.