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Govt urges balance on emissions reduction measures

Resources Minister Madeleine King says energy security needs to be balanced alongside reducing emissions as the debate on the safeguard mechanism continues.

Photo: AAP/Dave Hunt

Photo: AAP/Dave Hunt

The government is still locked in negotiations to pass the legislation, which would apply to the country’s biggest 215 emitters.

The mechanism would force them to reduce their emissions by almost five per cent a year until 2030, with companies not able to meet the targets forced to buy carbon credits.

However, the Greens are refusing to support the proposal due to the government not ruling out a ban on new coal and gas projects.

King said while such a ban won’t happen, the end goal of climate action is still the same.

“We’ve got to balance many different calls to action with many other demands and I respect those calls for action, and I know not everyone agrees with us … we have disagreements about the pathway, but we all want to get to net-zero emissions by 2050,” she said on Wednesday.

“There needs to be a manufacturing industry that has to continue … we need to provide energy security for all Australians for manufacturing …we also have an international responsibility to provide energy security to the region.”

While there are more than 100 coal and gas projects in the pipeline for possible approval, they would be considered based on guidelines in place.

“They have to go through rigorous environmental approval processes as well, some of them have their own internal process,” she said.

“We intend to implement reform to the safeguard mechanism so that all larger emitters will be captured, new projects will have to meet certain guidelines.”

The mechanism would aim to reduce emissions by 205 tonnes by the end of the decade.

The government needs the support of the Greens and at least two crossbenchers in the Senate to pass the mechanism due to the coalition opposing the proposal.

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Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said the party was determined to ensure whatever measure passes parliament would not make climate change worse.

“We’ve seen those dire warnings from the UN’s scientists and that significant report that we are quickly running out of time,” she said.

“We need to double all of our efforts, put our shoulders to the wheel and get this done. That means not making the problem worse with new coal and gas.”

-AAP

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