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Greens deal struck to get Safeguard Mechanism over the line

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Photo by Reuters

27th March 2023

By: Esmarie Iannucci

Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor: Australasia

     

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PERTH (miningweekly.com) – The federal government has secured additional parliamentary support for the Safeguard Mechanism reforms, which the Australian Greens said would put up to 116 gas and coal projects in the firing line.

Proposed reforms to the Safeguard Mechanism will reduce 205-million tonnes of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to 2030, the equivalent of taking two-thirds of the nation’s cars off the road over the same period.

Minister for Climate Change and Energy Chris Bowen said that they complement the over A$24-billion investment the government was already making in cleaner, cheaper energy, and emissions reduction.

The Safeguard Mechanism was put in place by the previous Coalition government. It requires facilities that produce over 100 000 t/y of GHGs annually, amounting to around 215 facilities, to keep their net emissions below a baseline.

Bowen said on Monday that extensive industry and public consultation and constructive discussions with the Australian Greens and crossbench have delivered a strengthened design that bolsters the scheme for the economy and the climate.

The changes to the scheme are in keeping with the policy’s intent, ensuring that both flexibility and support are provided for industry to remain competitive, and that the scheme delivers accountability, transparency and integrity.

Bowen said the finalisation of the Safeguard Mechanism Bill was a key milestone in achieving Australia’s 43% emissions reduction target by 2030.

“Today, we are a step closer to achieving net zero by 2050. We thank those across the Parliament who continue to approach this legislation in a constructive way to ensure accountability, transparency and integrity for the scheme, and ensure flexibility and support for industry. We will continue to work with people of good faith across the Parliament to secure passage.

“These reforms are the culmination of months of extensive feedback from Safeguard businesses, industry associations, climate and community groups, academics and private individuals,” the Minister said.

“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.”

Greens leader Adam Bandt said on Monday that changes to the Safeguard Mechanism would be a "hit" on coal and gas projects.

“The Greens have stopped many of the 116 new coal and gas projects in the pipeline from going ahead, pollution will actually go down, and we’ve derailed the Beetaloo and Barossa gasfields.

“Coal and gas pollution was set to soar under Labor’s safeguard. The Greens have introduced a hard cap on emissions, meaning real pollution must actually come down and the coal and gas corporations can’t buy their way out of the cap with offsets. This puts a limit on coal and gas expansion in Australia. Pollution will now go down, not up, as it was set to under Labor,” Bandt said.

“We’ve secured a pollution trigger that, for the first time in history, means new projects must be assessed for their impact on climate pollution and they can be stopped. Labor now has the power to stop coal and gas projects that would breach the pollution cap. Every new coal and gas project that gets approved from here on in is Labor’s direct responsibility.

“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.

“In balance of power, the Greens have stopped many of the 116 coal and gas projects in the pipeline from proceeding, and now we’re coming after the rest.”

The government will finalise detailed Safeguard Rules next month. The updated Safeguard Mechanism scheme will be in operation as of July 1, 2023

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter

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