Environment

Anthony Albanese promises resource sector ‘orderly’ reduction in emissions | Greenhouse gas emissions

Anthony Albanese has promised to work with the resources sector to “reduce emissions in a predictable and orderly way” as Labor comes under increased pressure from the Greens to ban emissions intensive projects.

Albanian made the comment to the minerals industry parliamentary dinner on Monday, suggesting the “cooperation and dialogue” Labor achieved at the two-day jobs and skills summit “should be the rule” not a “48-hour exception”.

On Monday the Greens introduced new “climate trigger” laws into parliament that would ban emissions intensive projects, as the government faces calls to also toughen up its bill for a 43% emissions reduction target in the Senate.

Albanese said Australia can be “a renewable energy superpower”, and that “Australian metals and minerals will make this happen”.

Albanese described Australia as the “pre-eminent resources jurisdiction – the top exporter of iron ore, lithium, LNG, and metallurgical coal.

“I want to emphasize that our government will continue to work with your businesses to reduce emissions in a predictable and orderly way, underpinning the energy transition with certainty.

“In the same way, Australia will continue to be a trusted and stable supplier of energy and resources to our key trading partners.”

Earlier on Monday the Greens introduced proposed amendment to the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act to stop new projects that would emit more than 100,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year and require the government to assess the climate effect of developments that would produce more than 25,000 tonnes .

Sarah Hanson-Young
Greens Senator and environmental spokesperson, Sarah Hanson-Young, says her proposed bill will ‘plug a huge flaw’ in Australia’s environmental laws. Photograph: Mick Tsikas/AAP

It would also make it an offense for an individual or a company to take any action that would have a significant effect on emissions, with either civil or criminal penalties applying of up to seven years in jail for an individual or a fine of more than $10m for a company.

The Greens’ environment spokesperson, Sarah Hanson-Young, said the climate trigger bill would “plug a huge flaw” in Australia’s environmental laws and flagged the issue as the next flashpoint in negotiations with the government over its climate agenda.

“The climate wars will not end this week with the passage of Labor’s climate bill as long as they keep approving new coal and gas,” she said.

“It’s crazy that in the midst of this climate crisis and environmental collapse that a new mine or development can get environmental approval without any consideration of climate pollution or damage.”

The Greens received a boost from unlikely quarters on Monday with Fortescue chief, Andrew Forrest, backing the call for no new fossil fuel projects, saying it was the “responsible thing to do”.

The environment minister, Tanya Plibersek, said the government was acting on the climate crisis by legislating higher emissions reduction targets, and was committed to also reforming national environmental laws. She said it would respond to Graeme Samuel’s review of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act by the end of the year.

“Through this process we will consider a range of ways of improving our environmental laws to ensure they protect our environment and streamline the decision process. This means considering a range of options carefully and consultatively,” she said.

Hanson-Young said it was difficult to see how the Greens could support environmental reforms if they “would allow the minister to continue to ignore emissions when granting approvals to large projects”.

The introduction of the bill comes as the government was pushed to do more on its climate legislation that has been introduced to the Senate this week, with independent senators David Pocock and Jacqui Lambie proposing amendments they said would improve transparency.

Pocock said he was disappointed by the government’s response, describing it as “lukewarm”, but he had a “constructive and positive” meeting with the climate change minister, Chris Bowen.

“We’re both wanting to be constructive … our proposed amendment is really common sense and sensible and actually strengthens the bill,” Pocock said.

The prime minister, Anthony Albanese, said he was happy to consider “serious proposals to improve legislation”.

“I think we showed that when the legislation was before the House of Representatives, and a range of amendments were carried,” he said. “I think the legislation is good legislation and it’s worthy of support in the Senate.”

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