The federal government has secured the support it needs to implement its central climate change commitment, after reaching a deal with the Greens following months of safeguard mechanism negotiations.
- The safeguard mechanism will impose emissions limits on the 215 largest-polluting facilities in the country
- Greens’ support for the policy requires the government to impose a hard cap on emissions
- Adam Bandt says that will make 116 coal and gas projects from being able to open
This policy is the centrepiece of Labor’s pledge to reduce carbon emissions by 43 per cent by 2030.
The Greens have long demanded Labor commit to no new coal and gas projects, but the government has repeatedly ruled this out.
Greens leader Adam Bandt said the deal included a hard cap on emissions, which would impact new or expanded high-polluting projects.
He predicted the hard emissions cap would make it unviable for 116 new coal and gas projects in the pipeline because they would be unable to get their emissions below the limit.
“The Greens have stopped about half of them [in the pipeline] but Labor still wants to open the rest,” Mr Bandt said.
“And, so, now there is going to be a fight for every new project that the government wants to open.”
The safeguard mechanism bill before the parliament seeks to impose emissions limits on the 215 largest-polluting facilities in the country.
It requires those companies to cut, or pay offsets, to reduce their emissions by 4.9 per cent each year to 2030.
Climate Change Minister Chris Bowen has led the safeguard negotiations with the Greens since Labor won power last year.
He said Labor only accepted amendments that were in keeping with Labor’s election commitments and policy agenda.
“They do two things, strengthen accountability, transparency and integrity of the scheme and, secondly, provide extra support for those strategic manufacturing industries that are so important for our economy and transition as well,” Mr Bowen said.
Extra support for some sectors
The deal will see the government offer extra money to support “Australia’s sovereign capability” in the steel, aluminium and cement sectors.
There had been fears that those sectors would be forced offshore without additional support to cut emissions.
Mr Bandt said that, while the negotiations had been in good faith, he was critical of Labor’s approach to coal and gas.
“Negotiating with Labor is like negotiating with the political wing of the coal and gas corporations,” he said.
“Labor seems more afraid of the coal and gas corporations than the climate collapse.”
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese thanked the Greens and the crossbench for engaging constructively in negotiations but took aim at the opposition.
“It says a lot about the state of the Liberal and National parties in 2023 that, in spite of the election result, they have excluded themselves from any participation,” he said.
Crossbench senator Jacqui Lambie has been critical of the Greens holding out on agreeing to a safeguard mechanism compromise, urging the party it was better to take something than walking away from a deal.
The Greens’ support means Labor now has the numbers to pass the bill through the Senate, allowing it to take force from July 1.