Australia’s Era of Climate Gridlock Over as Big Polluters Face Safeguard Mechanism

The Climate Council has lauded an historic agreement today between Labor and the Greens to deliver the first legislation in a decade that will regulate climate pollution.

A significantly strengthened Safeguard Mechanism will drive down emissions from Australia’s 215 biggest industrial polluters, and make it more difficult for new coal and gas projects to be approved.

Amanda McKenzie, Climate Council 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.

“The Climate Council has been meeting with politicians across the Parliament to provide reliable, evidence-based information in advocating for a strengthened Safeguard Mechanism that will result in genuine emissions reductions. We welcome some of our suggestions being picked up, and included. This proves how important and powerful a community-funded and independent climate organisation can be.

“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.

“We thank and recognise every Parliamentarian who put Australians first in negotiating in good faith and will be passing laws that finally start to regulate the biggest polluters,” Ms McKenzie added.

Once a stronger Safeguard Mechanism has passed both houses of Parliament, and with the law due to kick in from 1 July this year, the focus will now shift to improving other important national climate policies.

“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.

“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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