MELBOURNE: Australia's federal government and the state of South Australia have signed a A$1.1 billion (US$851 million) deal to finance measures aimed at making energy more affordable and helping to curb carbon emissions.
Australia said in December it could beat its target for cutting carbon emissions under the Paris climate agreement by 2030 without counting credits from overachieving on its targets in previous climate pacts, marking a shift in policy for one of the world's biggest emitters per capita.
Under the agreement, South Australia will provide A$422 million and the federal government will spend A$660 million, A$400 million of which will be spent on "priority areas" such as carbon storage, electric vehicles, hydrogen and other projects aiming at reducing emissions.
"Families and businesses need affordable, reliable power. That is what reduces prices and creates jobs," Prime Minister Scott Morrison said during a televised briefing while announcing the agreement.
"Australians also want to ensure we are doing everything we responsibly can to combat climate change."
Premier of South Australia Steven Marshall said the deal will also help to deliver the infrastructure needed for electric cars and to generate new revenue for farmers from carbon reductions.
"This agreement is going to lower power bills for South Australians and create jobs in the fast-growing renewables industry," Marshall said.
But the agreement was criticised by Mark Butler, who worked as minister for climate change under a previous Labor government.
"What we get is, bit by bit, little bits of announcements in particular states instead of a comprehensive national policy that will underpin investor certainty to transition Australia's energy future," said Butler, currently the shadow minister of health.