Greens agree to support Labor emissions bill

The Albanese government has agreed to a number of changes to its climate laws, securing Greens support to get them through parliament despite Coalition opposition.

Greens leader Adam Bandt, one of the signatories on a letter to the government warning they won't rush through a bill "that doesn't make the grade". Photo: AAP/David Crosling

Greens leader Adam Bandt, one of the signatories on a letter to the government warning they won't rush through a bill "that doesn't make the grade". Photo: AAP/David Crosling

The changes, outlined by leader Adam Bandt on Wednesday, include the government ensuring the emissions target can be raised over time and cannot go backwards.

There will also be greater transparency and strengthened requirements on the Climate Change Authority.

Government agencies, such as Export Finance Australia, that have funded coal and gas projects will for the first time be forced to take climate targets into account.

They join a range of other agencies with new limits, including Infrastructure Australia and the Northern Australia Infrastructure Fund.

The redesigned “safeguard mechanism”, which is a crucial part of the system to cut emissions, will have input from the Greens.

Labor has also agreed to consider Greens proposals to support coal and gas workers and communities, including the establishment of a transition authority.

The Greens will seek to amend the budget to be handed down in October for any subsidies to fossil fuel companies.

Bandt set out the conditions in an address to the National Press Club in Canberra on Wednesday.

He said the Greens will also fight for a climate trigger in environmental protection legislation, which is separate to the climate laws.

“We are bitterly disappointed that Labor wants to open new and coal and gas projects, unwilling to adopt science based targets,” he said.

“The fight to stop Labor opening new coal and gas mines continues.

“You can only end the climate wars by keeping coal and gas in the ground.”

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It comes as MPs debate the legislation in the lower house.

The government’s bill enshrines an emissions reduction target of 43 per cent by 2030 and net zero by 2050, and will require the minister of the day to report annually to parliament on the nation’s progress.

Labor needs the support of all 12 Greens senators plus one crossbencher in order for the bill to pass the upper house.

Independent MPs Helen Haines and Kate Chaney are absent from parliament this week after testing positive for COVID-19, but other crossbenchers will propose amendments in their names.

Chaney’s amendment aims to ensure the bill clearly states its intention is to actually drive climate action and is linked to science.

“The science shows a target of at least 50 per cent reduction in emissions by 2030 is needed,” she said in a statement.

“But I am keen to lock in this progress and continue to work with the government to pursue the opportunities presented by this necessary shift in our economic activity.”

Dr Haines’ amendment would ensure regional Australia benefits from action on climate change.

A meeting of Liberal and Nationals MPs and senators on Tuesday affirmed the coalition’s opposition to the bill.

The coalition plans to develop its own climate policy, including updated emissions targets beyond its existing 26-28 per cent reduction proposal, in time for the next federal election.


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