Labor and Greens reach Safeguard Mechanism deal

Headshot of Australia's Climate Change and Energy Minister Chris Bowen beside headshot of Greens leader Dr Adam Bandt (safeguard)

Labor has secured support from the Greens to deliver its flagship Safeguard Mechanism legislation after months of negotiations. 

This Safeguard Mechanism is the centrepiece of Labor’s plan to reduce carbon emissions by 43% by 2030.

Greens leader Adam Bandt said the deal included a cap on emissions, which would impact new or expanded high-polluting coal and gas projects. This news has been welcomed by the Climate Council. 

Related article: Safeguard Mechanism modelling reveals risk of blowout

Climate Council CEO Amanda McKenzie CEO said: “This will be the Federal Parliament’s first reform to genuinely cut pollution in a decade. 

“Almost one year ago, Australians sent a clear message at the polls that they wanted our Parliament to act on climate change. Today, they are getting on with it. This will mean more clean, renewable power, and less pollution. Finally, as a nation, Australia is starting to tackle the climate crisis.

“Today’s agreement is a massive wake up call to any board or business executive who thinks they can keep stalling genuine climate action. The era of climate gridlock in Australia is over and the only viable path for any business is genuine, deep cuts to carbon pollution this decade.”

The agreed Safeguard Mechanism reform package incorporates key improvements the Climate Council has advocated for, including: 

  • Capping total emissions under the Safeguard Mechanism to ensure new and expanded fossil fuel projects can’t blow this carbon budget out and drive up national emissions
  • Making new gas facilities fully accountable for their emissions from day one, so they are not forcing other future-focused industries to make even deeper cuts to their emissions 
  • Subjecting any new project that would add significantly to emissions under the Safeguard Mechanism to a rigorous assessment and acting on the findings of this
  • Ensuring public funding through the Powering the Regions Fund is not directed to coal and gas projects and only supports future-focused industries.       

“The Safeguard Mechanism is just one weapon in the war to drive down Australia’s emissions. We need to throw the whole arsenal at tackling harmful climate change,” Climate Council Head of Advocacy Dr Jennifer Rayner said.  

Related article: Methane the “elephant in the room” in Safeguard Mechanism

“As a priority, Australia needs strong environmental laws that properly consider climate impacts, an end to fossil fuel financing and public subsidies, much tighter limits on offsetting to ensure we are achieving genuine and steep emissions reductions, and a ban on greenwashing so coal and gas companies can’t keep gaslighting Australians about their climate plans.

“This Parliament has shown it can deliver all these important reforms—and more—by building on the foundations laid for real emissions reduction through the Safeguard Mechanism.”               

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