Commenting on improvements to the safeguard mechanism, the Australian Conservation Foundation’s Acting CEO Paul Sinclair said:
“ACF commends Climate Change Minister Chris Bowen and Greens leader Adam Bandt for reaching agreement to significantly improve the safeguard mechanism with measures including setting a hard cap on emissions.
“A ‘pollution trigger’ to require the minister to test a new or expanded project’s impact on the carbon budget and take action to stay within the budget will strengthen the scheme.
“These improvements will cut emissions from Australia’s biggest polluters and make it much harder for big new gas projects, like the Beetaloo Basin, to proceed.
“We welcome the commitment to toughen regulation of offsets and improve their integrity.
“Stopping coal and gas projects from accessing public funding through the Powering the Regions fund and the Industry Research and Development Act is a win for the climate.
“ACF thanks every parliamentarian who has worked to improve this scheme.
“With these improvements Australia’s biggest domestic polluters will come under greater scrutiny and regulation, but there is a long way to go to break Australia’s reliance on coal and gas.
“A mechanism that curbs the emissions of Australia’s biggest polluters is just one of many policy changes Australia needs to get serious about tackling the climate crisis.
“The safeguard mechanism only covers domestic emissions – most of the pollution from Australian fossil fuels comes when exported coal and gas is burnt overseas.
“The pollution we export through coal and gas is twice what we produce at home.
“Attention should now turn to replacing our coal and gas exports with clean exports. Solid research shows it can be done – and can be an economic boon.
“The strengthened mechanism is a critical start, but not the final word, on real climate action.”