Labor’s ambiguous plans to make Australia a ‘renewables superpower’ were confirmed in last night’s budget, with Jim Chalmers both promoting a government commitment to green energy while also allocating millions to the mining sector.

The treasurer announced investment in its Future made in Australia scheme, with a focus on sustainability working towards the net zero commitment made in November 2023, that includes a $13.7 billion allowance for green hydrogen and ‘critical minerals’.

But critics accused the government of greenwashing, pointing out Labor had allocated far more money to mining than investing in climate clean strategies.

“This is blatant greenwashing,” said Youth for Climate activist, Natasha Abhayawickrama. “Although the budget shows promising opportunity and investment into renewables, when this is part of a strategy that continues to subsidise fossil fuels whilst also continuing to support gas until 2050 that’s not the future young people want to see.”

Abhayawickrama, who was a student organiser of School Strike for Climate rallies and has spoken at multiple climate conventions, added: “There is no genuine effort to solve the climate crisis when there is this much inclusion of continuing the existence of fossil fuels instead of supporting a plan to phase out to renewable energy.”

But former NSW environment and energy minister and State treasurer, Matt Kean MP, said mining the minerals was critical for Australia’s economic prosperity.

“In order to transition to a net zero economy, you’re going to need to modernise your electricity system… solar, wind backed up by storage,” he said.

“Batteries are a key part of this, and in order to make a battery, you need these minerals like lithium. The benefit for Australia is that we have a lot of these mineral deposits

“We need to invest in this industry to be able to benefit from huge economic transition and become an economic super power.”

The goals of net zero mean to reduce carbon emissions to an amount that can be naturally dispersed within the ecosystem. Mining 1 tonne of lithium alone emits 15 tonnes of carbon dioxide according to Green Match.

Main image mine in Mt Isa by denisbin/Flickr.