Only a few months ago, Kevin Rudd’s election promises echoed in my ears – climate change to be made a priority, signing Kyoto at the Bali climate change talks and encouraging renewable energy targets. I celebrated the end of the Howard legacy and had (somewhat optimistic) high hopes for the new climate-caring Australian government.

However, Howard’s legacy is already beginning to emerge from beneath Rudd’s climate facade.

I was outraged to discover that the government is sneakily giving backhanders to the fossil fuel industry – not just a few dollars here and there but $9 billion of taxpayers hard-earned cash.

Now there is a golden opportunity for Kevin Rudd to show Australia that things really are set to change – the federal budget in May. I want to be congratulating Rudd for reducing subsidies for fossil fuels not having my high hopes dashed so soon.

How’s this for a shocking stat… for every dollar of public money invested in renewable energy and energy efficiency, 28 times more is used to support the use of fossil fuels. Surely if the government is serious about reducing emissions they should be penalizing wealthy fossil fuel companies and instead putting public money into renewables, such as solar and wind.

For years the coal industry has been happily helping itself to a $300 million discount on its diesel fuel. This alone outweighs the entire federal government spending on renewable energy and energy efficiency. Just imagine the potential Australia has to become a world-leader in the renewable energy industry if the government’s big pot of cash was shared with them too. Instead, the few remaining university research departments into solar, wind and other clean forms of energy are having to turn down exciting projects and are scraping the barrel just to keep afloat.

I was glad to find it’s not only me that thinks it is time the government’s scam is exposed. A Newspoll commissioned by Greenpeace revealed 90% of Australians want to see renewable energy given the same or more government subsidies than those fossil fuels receive. 78% of Australians are unaware that fossil fuels, such as coal, oil and gas, receive a lot more subsidies than renewables.

It is time Kevin keeps his election promises of climate change action. Let’s see handouts to fossil fuels begin to be phased out in the federal budget so I can congratulate the new government and look forward to more positive steps towards halting climate change in the future.

How can you convince the government? Sign Greenpeace’s petition asking Treasurer Wayne Swan to end taxpayer-funded handouts to fossil fuels.