/ 28 March 2023

Labor and Greens clinch a climate deal



The Albanese Government’s revised plan to cut Australia’s carbon emissions by 43% in the next 7 years will go ahead after Labor struck a deal with the Greens yesterday. The ‘safeguard mechanism’ will see limits imposed on 215 facilities that produce the most pollution in Oz – they’ll need to cut emissions by 4.9% annually up until 2030. If they can’t meet that target, they will need to pay for offsets (aka carbon reductions/removals others have made), but under the deal, the ‘absolute’ volume of carbon must come down. The Greens also won more transition support for the steel, cement and aluminium industries, with funding rising from $600 million to $1 billion. Implementing the scheme was Labor’s central climate change commitment at last year’s federal election, but with the Coalition and several Senate crossbenchers opposed to it, Team Albanese needed the Greens’ support to pass the bill and had to make a few compromises for it to happen. 


It’s complicated… The Greens initially said the deal didn’t go far enough, and there were concerns that their all-or-nothing approach would derail it entirely. They got there in the end – although the 2 parties still aren’t exactly on the same page… Yesterday, Greens leader Adam Bandt said talks with Labor were “like negotiating with the political wing of the coal and gas corporations”. But, he says the Greens are now on board because although they want to ban new coal and gas projects altogether, the agreed hard cap on emissions means at least half of the 116 upcoming coal and gas projects probably won’t go ahead. To explain that a bit, the ‘hard cap’ will restrict how much emissions mining and gas projects can produce before they become unviable. For the government’s part, Climate Change Minister Chris Bowen said they’ve only agreed to amendments that are in line with Labor’s policies/goals.


The mining/gas exploration companies aren’t happy. The Minerals Council says it’s worried about jobs evaporating for not enough environmental gain. And the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association says the plan ignores that gas is “critical” as the nation decarbonises and transitions to clean energy. “Decisions that take emissions reductions options – such as natural gas – off the table make reaching net zero significantly harder and more costly,” said boss Samantha McCulloch. That’s something the Coalition also questioned, with Climate Change and Energy Minister spokesman Ted O’Brien saying “to decarbonise our economy, we have to get the balance right between cutting emissions and allowing the economy to grow”. But PM Anthony Albanese isn’t fazed – he says the plan was drafted in consultation with industry experts and that it won’t create instability in the energy market or raise power prices. 

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