Safeguarding the future with no more coal and gas

BY managing to secure a hit to coal and gas in our climate negotiations recently, the greens have shown that A better world is possible. AND with the Liberals on the sidelines, only Labor remains in the way.

Leader of the Australian Greens


“It’s easier to imagine the end of the world than to imagine the end of capitalism.”


he climate crisis is being driven by the greed of the coal and gas corporations.

They make massive profits, and we’re all paying the costs.

For Labor, it’s easier to back coal and gas than imagine taking on the power of the coal and gas corporations. Easier to imagine the world ending than it is to imagine curtailing the profits of the coal and gas corporations.

But that’s what we’ve faced in seeking to negotiate with Labor over their safeguard mechanism. Here’s what Labor’s original plan meant:

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efore the negotiations, Labor’s plan was to reheat Tony Abbott’s ‘safeguard mechanism’.

Pollution from the entities covered by the safeguard scheme – mainly coal and gas – was set to rise from the 140Mt now to up to 184Mt. Why? There was no limit on the 116 new coal and gas projects in the pipeline opening, and coal and gas could increase their pollution as long as they bought enough dodgy offsets. It did more to safeguard coal and gas than it did your future.

During the negotiations we bore witness to Labor’s determination to keep backing more coal and gas. In a week when the UN Secretary General and the world’s scientists pleaded with countries like Australia to stop opening new coal and gas mines, the Labor Party kept saying they wanted to open more coal and gas mines.

That’s what we are up against. One of the most powerful, profitable and reckless industries in the world, backed by the political class of this country.

That’s what we faced. But we used our numbers, we hung on and secured a huge hit to coal and gas.

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hese changes mean there is now going to be a hard cap on pollution. The cap will mean no matter how many offsets the corporations buy, the law will require actual pollution to start coming down. This puts a limit on the expansion of new coal and gas in Australia.

We estimate we have stopped the equivalent of about half of the 116 new coal and gas projects in the pipeline. This is big.

And if we can stop new projects here, it delivers the world a huge benefit: coal and gas dug up here has a terrible multiplier effect, as when it gets burnt elsewhere it fast-tracks climate collapse. Australia is the world's third largest exporter of fossil fuel pollution, but thanks to these amendments, we’ve started to rein that in.

If you’ve been working to get climate action for decades, you might have a bit of spring in your step. I know I do.

But the Greens secured even more:

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We have also secured a pollution trigger, which for the first time will give the Minister the power to assess the impact new projects will have on pollution, and reject them if it is going to lift actual pollution. For the first time, the government can stop new coal and gas projects if they’ll lift climate pollution. This means if any new project goes ahead, it is squarely on Labor’s shoulders.

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n addition, we’ve also put big financial hurdles in the way of projects like the Beetaloo and Barossa gas fields proceeding, with Beetaloo facing additional costs of up to $1b per year. We also stopped a range of dodgy offsets, increased reporting for methane emissions, and secured sector by sector pathways to net zero.

When gas giant Santos complains that the government is “handing power to the Greens in the final design of the safeguard mechanism” and putting new gas projects at risk and when the gas lobby backs the Greens in saying the new laws will stop new gas projects, you know we’ve landed a blow.

We know we need to do more. We need to talk about how to get out of existing coal and gas much more quickly than Labor wants, let alone forcing them to accept we shouldn’t open up new projects. Where we landed is a lot further from where Labor started, but we’ve got a lot more to do.

Both Liberals and Labor take massive donations and give too much special treatment to coal and gas.

We need to stop new coal and gas projects. Coal and gas corporations are driving the climate crisis, making massive profits and many refuse to pay tax.

There’s a lot more to do. We will be fighting to strengthen the environment laws that come before the Parliament, getting rid of public handouts to coal and gas corporations, and backing the communities around the country who are fighting new coal and gas projects.

We need to continue to build our power, both in public and in Parliament. We need to imagine and realise a world without coal and gas – a better world – in our lifetime, rather than continuing to imagine the end of the world.

A better world is possible. With the Liberals on the sidelines, only Labor is standing in the way.

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