How the Greens are again set to destroy Australia’s key climate policy – in an ominous echo of the time they sunk Kevin Rudd’s plan
- The Greens are in negotiations over the govt’s climate plan
- They have demanded a ban on new coal and gas projects
- In return, they will back the govt’s safeguard mechanism
Time is running out for the Greens to agree to the government’s climate policy, with a growing likelihood the party could destroy the plan just as it did to Kevin Rudd’s scheme back in 2009.
The government wants the safeguard mechanism – which requires the country’s top 215 carbon dioxide emitters to cut pollution by five per cent per year through to 2030 – to be passed by the Senate by Thursday.
To do so, the government needs the support of the 11 Greens senators and two more from the crossbench.
But the Greens say the government bill does not go far enough, and have demanded a ban on new coal or gas projects in return for their support of the proposed legislation.
The Greens and the Albanese government are still in negotiations over the safeguard mechanism as time ticks down (pictured, Greens Senator Mehreen Faruqi, Greens leader Adam Bandt and Greens member for Griffith Max Chandler-Mather)
‘The real thing we’re trying to tackle here is to stop pollution from coal and gas going up because that’s the cause of the government crisis,’ Greens leader Adam Bandt told Radio National.
‘Under the government’s model at the moment, they want to open up new coal and gas mines, pollution from coal and gas is forecast to go up and that is a problem.’
The Greens leader said the government was giving the United Nations the ‘middle finger’ by pressing on with approvals for new fossil fuel mines.
‘If Labor proceeds to open new coal and gas mines in the face of this very clear, final warning from the world’s scientists and the United Nations, they will be condemning our children to an unbelievable future,’ Mr Bandt said.
He added that pollution levels could even rise under the under the proposed safeguard mechanism as companies can increase their emissions, as long as they offset them.
‘Now what we’ve said, what others have said is, well, why not put something in the legislation that actually requires emissions to go down so that these corporations can’t offset their way out of the crisis?’ he questioned.
The Greens have demanded the government ban new coal or gas projects in return for their support (pictured, Bayswater power station)
Climate Change Minister Chris Bowen (pictured) said the Greens ‘have a choice make progress or make a point’
Climate Change Minister Chris Bowen said it was essential the government passed the bill.
‘Ten years of denial and delay has increased the threat of climate change to our health, environment, economy and national security. The government is acting rapidly to urgently turn this around,’ he said on Tuesday.
‘If passed, our reforms will come into effect in just 101 days from now.’
Mr Bowen told Sky News Australia that the Greens would do well to back the current bill rather than risk destroying it altogether by holding out for stronger measures.
‘The Greens have a choice make progress or make a point, if they want to make progress I’m here to make progress,’ he said.
‘If they want to make a point they can do that but a point is not progress.’
How Kevin Rudd’s climate scheme was voted down
The Rudd government proposed the carbon pollution reduction scheme, which was a ‘cap and trade’ emissions trading scheme, after working on the plan while in opposition in 2007.
The CRPS bill followed the Garnaut Climate Change Review, which looked into the impacts of climate change on the economy.
The report was criticised by the Greens and certain environmental organisations who felt the proposed emissions targets were not sufficient.
As a result, the Greens felt the CRPS was a ‘bad policy’ that would have failed to take adequate action on climate change.
The Greens voted down the Rudd government’s carbon pollution reduction scheme twice with the Liberal and National parties in late 2009.
Kevin Rudd (pictured left with then-foreign minister Stephen Smith in 2009) proposed the carbon pollution reduction scheme to tackle climate change. It was rejected by both the Greens and the Coalition
Then-opposition leader Malcom Turnbull was more supportive of the policy, being a ‘believer’ of climate change, and clashed with Tony Abbott and the Nationals over it.
The in-fighting resulted in a leadership spill, where Mr Turnbull was ousted and Mr Abbott took over.
Only two Liberal senators crossed the floor and voted with the government on the scheme.
The CRPS would have passed if the government received backing from the Greens or the Coalition.
Mr Rudd deferred plans for the CPRS in April 2010.
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