THE federal government could provide ''no documentation'' on how it assessed the $4.45 billion ''clean energy initiative'' announced in last year's budget, according to an audit report detailing a litany of failures in both Howard and Rudd government greenhouse programs.
''There was no documentation held by the department relating to … advice on the costs and benefits of the proposal and the management of risks associated with implementing the program,'' the audit found.
In another report the Audit Office reveals that federal and state governments have revised down by 15 per cent the amount of greenhouse gas abatement their policies will achieve by 2012.
A spokesman for the Resources Minister, Martin Ferguson, whose department administers the clean energy initiative, said, ''The department developed its policy advice using a large body of pre-existing documentation on carbon capture and storage'' - the technology for which more than half the clean energy money is earmarked.
The harsh assessment of Australia's climate change programs comes as a meeting of ministers from the world's major greenhouse gas emitters failed to agree how global climate talks should proceed after the failure of last year's UN meeting in Copenhagen, and downplayed the chances of reaching a deal at this year's talks in Mexico.
The Climate Change Minister, Penny Wong, said she believed the Copenhagen accord - the political agreement thrashed out in the Danish capital last December - was ''the best international consensus to date and the key to getting international action on climate change''.
But the Major Economies Forum meeting she has been attending in Washington was downbeat and the US climate envoy, Todd Stern, said afterwards that agreement in Mexico in December might not be possible.
The audit report was also scathing about the greenhouse gas abatement program set up under the Howard government and continued in the early years of the Rudd government, a competitive grants program similar to Tony Abbott's planned ''direct action'' climate change scheme. A previous audit had criticised the first two rounds of the scheme, but yesterday's report found the third round was not any better.
The three projects funded were ''technically ineligible'' because they did not meet the criteria, only one produced any greenhouse abatement at all, and even that project only reduced emissions by a third of the amount it had promised.
The Greens senator Christine Milne said the report ''should give Tony Abbott and [the opposition climate spokesman] Greg Hunt pause for thought''.
''Clearly the approach they have taken is not an effective or efficient way of delivering emissions cuts. We know we need to do a lot more than throw a few grants around if we are to stimulate the huge growth in green technologies we need," she said.
The report also criticised the original rebate scheme for solar roof panels, saying it achieved greenhouse gas abatement at a cost of about $447 each tonne of carbon, compared with the estimated costs in the early years of an emissions trading scheme of about $20 or $30 a tonne.
It also found that the impact of federal and state government measures had caused their greenhouse gas abatement impact to be revised down by 15 per cent over the past two years.