Greens leader Adam Bandt has today announced his party has struck a deal with Labor on the key climate policy Anthony Albanese took to the federal election – claiming the coal and gas industries will suffer a ‘big hit’ as a result.
Mr Bandt’s deal means Energy Minister Chris Bowen’s safeguard mechanism will now be able to pass through the Senate, after weeks of Labor claiming the Greens could vote down the proposal, as they did to Kevin Rudd’s emissions plan in 2009.
Before the deal, Mr Bandt and his party had expressed concerns the government’s plan could make the climate crisis worse and the minor party’s founder, Bob Brown, railed against the policy.
The policy will require the country’s top 215 carbon dioxide emitters to cut pollution by five per cent per year through to 2030 and will place a ‘hard cap’ on emissions.
Mr Bandt said the bill will include a ‘pollution trigger’ that will require the climate change minister, currently Mr Bowen, to test the impact of new or expanded polluting projects on the country’s cap and net carbon budgets.
‘With our significant amendments, the Greens will be voting to pass the bill and will back the regulations, but the fight against all new coal and gas continues,’ Mr Bandt said on Monday.
Greens leader Adam Bandt has today announced his party has struck a deal with Labor on the climate policy it took to the federal election
Mr Bandt said: ‘There will now be, in legislation, a hard cap on actual emissions that the safeguard sector can emit.
‘This puts a limit on coal and gas expansion in this country. In fact, the limit must decline over time.
‘There will be, in law for the first time in this country, a limit on the amount of pollution that these corporations including the coal and gas corporations, can pollute.
‘I want to say to everyone who despairs about the future under our climate crisis and who is worried about their lives or their kids’ or their grandkids’, you should have a spring in your step today because we have shown that it is possible to take on the coal and gas corporations and win.’
The government is seeking to pass the mechanism through parliament this week so the reforms can be in place by July.
Labor needs the support of the Greens plus two crossbenchers to get the bill through the Senate against coalition opposition.
The Greens had been calling for the government to stop all new coal and gas projects in return for their support for the bill.
Under the deal there will be a ceiling on gross greenhouse gas emissions, which won’t be able to exceed current pollution levels of 140 million tonnes a year, and there will be a decreasing cap over time.
The safeguard mechanism will now be able to pass through the Senate and become law, after weeks of concerns the Greens could destroy the proposal by refusing to back it
The safeguard mechanism, which was initiated by the coalition government but is being overhauled by Labor, will apply to the country’s 215 biggest emitters and force them to reduce their emissions by 4.9 per cent each year.
Companies that aren’t able to meet the targets would be able to purchase carbon credits.
The policy is considered essential to achieving the climate target of 43 per cent emission reduction by 2030 and net-zero by 2050.
On Monday, Mr Bowen said Australia is now ‘a step closer to achieving net zero by 2050’.
‘These reforms are the culmination of months of extensive feedback from Safeguard businesses, industry associations, climate and community groups, academics and private individuals.
‘Business and climate groups have been clear that the Parliament should pass the strengthened legislation in front of it and deliver overdue policy certainty – but Peter Dutton would prefer to drag Australia backwards and continue the climate wars.
‘These reforms are crucial to our climate and our economy – supporting Australian industry and ensuring they will continue to be competitive in a decarbonising world.’
Mr Bowen was directly asked if the new policy was a ‘major hit on fossil fuel projects by stealth’, but was unable to answer the question.
Key crossbench senator David Pocock is also in talks with the government, voicing concerns about the overuse of carbon offsets under the plan.
Labor needs the support of the Greens plus two crossbenchers to get the bill through the Senate against coalition opposition