Greens leader Adam Bandt says the opening of any new coal or gas projects will be “squarely on Labor” as his party celebrated stopping more than 50 deals from progressing.
After securing a last minute deal with the government on Monday to pass an amended, “stronger” Safeguards Mechanism, Mr Bandt said the minor party would not stop their fight to prevent any new fossil fuel projects from opening.
The amendments secured by the Greens place a “hard cap” on emissions, which Mr Bandt said would effectively prevent at least half of the 116 fossil fuel projects in the government’s pipeline – worth billions of dollars – from going ahead.
Mr Bandt said the Bill, which passed through the House on Monday, was much stronger compared to Labor’s initial proposal, which “saw pollution go up”.
Adam Bandt said new coal and gas projects would be ‘squarely’ on Labor’s shoulders. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Gary Ramage
“What we know from the UN Secretary General and the world’s scientists is that countries like Australia cannot open new coal and gas if we’re to have any chance of meeting our targets,” he told ABC Radio.
“Under Labor’s initial proposal, new coal and gas could open without restriction – all they had to do was buy offsets … pollution … was set to soar.
“We’ve put a hrd cap on, which stops about half of the projects’ pollution from going into the air. Now, we’re coming after the rest.
“Every new coal and gas project can be stopped. It’s squarely on Labor’s shoulders if they go ahead.”
Mr Bandt also applauded the addition of a “climate trigger” to the legislation, which means the minister of the day will need to take into account the climate impact of any new project.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Climate Change and Energy Minister Chris Bowen secured the support of the Greens on Monday. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Gary Ramage
Energy and Climate Change Minister Chris Bowen said any new projects would need to comply with “international best practice”.
He thanked the Greens and the crossbench for their engagement, and said the deal had struck a “good balance”.
“A project will either have to invest in onside abatement with the technology available to them or offset that. Now, companies can factor that into their investment decisions. They will have to factor that into their investment decisions, but that’s quite appropriate for our country,” he said.
“Most players in business are saying yes, we can work with this. This is a good balance and I believe it is.”
He said if emissions went up, he – or the minister of the day – would be legally obliged to take action.
“That is quite appropriate, and that is the way it should be,” he said.
The Bill will now go to the Senate, where it’s expected to pass with the support of crossbench senators.
Independent senator David Pocock confirmed on Tuesday morning he would vote for the amended legislation, while Lidia Thorpe is expected to vote with the Greens.
“Reforms to the Safeguard Mechanism are imperfect, but represent a step towards a credible climate policy,” Senator Pocock said.
“These reforms need to be seen as a first step as there is much more work to do to ensure we speed up decarbonisation and take advantage of the huge opportunities this presents for Australia.
“I have worked with the government to ensure Australians can have confidence that this policy will actually reduce emissions from the industrial sector.”