Export Finance Australia (EFA) can no longer justify fossil fuel funding

(Lowy Institute, Sydney, 6 April 2023) Since 2009 EFA has helped to underwrite global heating by providing roughly AU$1.69 billion to fossil fuel firms, while offering a relatively paltry AU$20 million for renewable energy projects. Last year, many of Australia’s key allies signed the so-called Glasgow Statement, which commits signatories to ending public support for international fossil fuel projects. The reasoning was clear: continuing to use taxpayer dollars to underwrite new oil, gas and coal projects, such as coal-fired power plants, is inconsistent with the 1.5°C warming limit and goals of the Paris Agreement. Our ECA research suggests this pattern of lending is likely a result of interrelated pressures from large, politically influential exporting firms that argue EFA’s support is critical for the Australian economy, and national security concerns about the future of Australia’s energy security. However, these arguments no longer stack up. First, fossil fuel firms that benefit from billions in EFA support are among Australia’s largest and most profitable corporations; second, ending public financial support for the export of coal and gas will not prevent the sector from maintaining energy security necessary to power the country’s economy and third, and related, if Australia is to be a renewable energy superpower as the PM has declared, Canberra can ill afford to delay supporting renewables industries.