G20 analysis: Australian stimulus spending four times more on fossil fuels than clean energy

Ahead of the G20 Finance Ministers’ meeting this week, 14 expert organisations from around the globe, including the Australia Institute, have launched a COVID-19 tracker of fossil fuel and clean energy stimulus.

The Energy Policy Tracker shows that the world’s 20 richest countries, who together account for 80 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, have committed more than US$150 billion (link here) of public money to support fossil fuels since the start of the COVID-19 crisis this year.

The new research reveals as of late June 2020, Australian Governments have committed almost four times as much public funding to fossil fuel projects than clean energy.

Key Finds

–          Total commitment from G20 governments in support of fossil fuels since the beginning of the pandemic: USD 151 billion; of them, only 20% make financial support conditional on green requirements, such as setting climate targets or implementing pollution reduction plans. 

–          Total commitment from G20 governments in support of clean energy: at least USD 89 billion, 81% of this support is unspecific about the appropriate environmental safeguards.

–          At least USD 479.51 million has been committed by Australian governments in unconditional fossil fuel support through 7 policies.

–          Only USD 121.67 million has been committed by Australian governments for clean energy through 8 policies.  

“A growing number of coalitions of investors and real economy stakeholders are advocating for a recovery aligned with the goals of the Paris Agreement. But many have still not got the message,” stated United Nations Secretary General António Guterres in a message to the International Energy Agency, foreshadowing the launch of this report.

“New research on G20 recovery packages released this week shows that twice as much recovery money — taxpayers’ money – has been spent on fossil fuels as clean energy. Today I would like to urge all leaders to choose the clean energy route.”

“Australian governments continue to prop up the coal and natural gas sectors with fee waivers, fast-tracked projects and direct investments, further entrenching Australia’s position as the third largest exporter of fossil fuels in the world,” says Richie Merzian, Director Climate & Energy Program at The Australia Institute

“It will be disappointing but not surprising if Australia misses the opportunity to lever the economic recovery from COVID-19 to address the climate crisis that only a few months earlier contributed to unprecedented bush fires across the country.

“Australia is worse than the United States in proportional support for fossil fuels over clean energy and should look to the United Kingdom as an example of how to prioritise the energy systems of the future, versus entrenching those of the past.”

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