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Discussion paper

Leaving the ARENA: fossil fuels vs renewables in Australian energy R&D funding

Energy industries Energy Energy resources Renewable energy Coal Research Wind power Solar energy Research and development Australia

Australia’s funding of fossil fuel research has consistently been among the highest in the developed world, both in absolute terms and as a percentage of our gross domestic product (GDP). Among the IEA members, Australia was the first, second or third largest funder of fossil fuel research from 1989 to 2003, and second or third from 2009 onwards as a percentage of GDP.

This history of poor performance in renewable energy RD&D funding changed in 2013-14, with the establishment of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA). When ARENA was established, Australia became a world leader renewable RD&D, ranked third in absolute terms and first as a percentage of GDP.

Current government policy risks sending Australia back to an energy research policy from the 1980s and 90s. This is not what the public wants and it is not in the nation’s interest. The Senate should oppose the government’s proposal to cut renewable energy funding.

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