Safeguard Mechanism

Coal & gas are the leading cause of the climate crisis, but Labor is backing in more.

Labor is set to introduce changes to the Safeguard Mechanism, which regulates Australia’s 215 biggest polluters. Labor’s current plan will make the climate crisis worse because it doesn’t stop new coal and gas. 

The big coal and gas corporations have made big donations and as a result the safeguard mechanism will see real pollution from coal and gas rise and new mines being expanded and opened at a time when we must be doing everything we can to stop new coal and gas.

Improving the Safeguard Mechanism

Labor’s proposed Safeguard mechanism will give coal and gas corporations a green light to keep expanding and polluting as long as they buy cheap, low-integrity offsets.

Coal and gas corporations can’t be allowed to just buy their way out of climate destruction with offsetting.

The more we let coal and gas off the hook, the worse the climate crisis will get.

We need a Safeguard Mechanism which stops new coal and gas

Strong action on the climate crisis, means no more coal & gas

Coal and gas are the major causes of the climate crisis.

You can’t put a fire out by pouring more petrol on it. If we continue to mine and burn coal, oil and gas, we’ll experience further economic losses, food, insurance and health costs will go up, and we’ll pay much higher energy bills. Over a million jobs in industries including tourism and farming are at risk. 

The proposed Safeguard Mechanism could stop new coal, oil and gas projects, ensuring we can transition our economy to zero carbon energy while maintaining a safe climate. 


To pass the Safeguard Mechanism through Parliament the government needs the support of Greens in the balance of power. The Greens want to work with the government to ensure the Safeguard Mechanism delivers real and deep pollution cuts, not accounting tricks and an excuse for coal and gas to expand and keep polluting.

What is the Safeguard Mechanism?

The safeguard mechanism is a company by company emissions target.

It was established by Tony Abbott but allowed pollution to rise, but Labor is now changing the targets each company has to meet. The mechanism covers the top 215 big polluters in the country. If a company exceeds its target, it can purchase carbon credits. According to the Climate Council, these carbon offset credits are often used to cover up pollution as usual.  

The plan has two main issues. The first is the overuse of offsets. Under this plan, there is no limit on how many offsets a company can use, and no requirement for companies to cut real pollution. The second issue is that it allows for more coal and gas projects. A lot more. 

Right now, there are 117 new coal and gas projects in the investment pipeline, which will blow out the targets and undermine the policy. More coal and gas means more emissions. 

Currently, the Safeguard Mechanism is a plan for accounting tricks not real cuts to pollution, and allowing more coal and gas. 

What are the Greens calling for? 

We want a mechanism which stops new coal and gas and doesn’t allow corporations to simply write off their pollution.  

We want a mechanism which doesn't make other industries such as manufacturing do the heavy lifting for new coal and gas. 

The Greens have offered to back Labor’s mechanism if Labor agrees to stop opening new coal and gas mines. Labor’s current mechanism will make the climate crisis worse and actual pollution will go up from new coal and gas projects opening. 

The Greens have huge concerns with other parts of the mechanism, such as the rampant use of offsets and the low emissions reduction targets, but we’re prepared to put those concerns aside and give Labor’s mechanism a chance if Labor agrees to stop opening new coal and gas projects. 

Who is influencing Labor's decisions on the Safeguard Mechanism?

Big coal and gas corporations.

Fossil fuel donors gave Labor big donations and as a result the safeguard mechanism will see pollution rise and new mines being opened.

68% of the emissions covered under the safeguard mechanism came from corporations that donated to the Labor party's election campaign. 

18 Safeguard targeted corporations, including Santos, Woodside, Whitehaven Coal, Glencore and Tamboran, poured $896,000 into the government’s election war chest, in a clear exertion of influence over the safeguard legislation.

If the public is to have any confidence in this scheme, Labor must prove it won’t allow big corporations to influence the operation of the mechanism.

Labor shouldn’t be taking donations from the coal and gas corporations they’re meant to regulate. Labor should return these dirty coal and gas donations.

We will continue the climate fight at every opportunity. This could be the climate parliament, we have the numbers to go much further and faster – the only thing standing in the way of more action is Labor and their fossil fuel donors. 


Join us in calling on Labor to end coal and gas:

I call on members and all state, territory and federal Parliaments to take urgent action to end coal & gas.

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