The Greens have introduced a climate trigger bill to parliament to ban the approval of new carbon-churning mines in Australia and dear lord, my fingers have never been crossed this tightly.
The proposed laws would act as a safeguard mechanism to ensure all future coal and gas projects wouldn’t contribute to climate change. Basically, no projects emitting more than 100,000 tonnes of carbon would be allowed to go ahead and anything emitting between 25,000 and 100,000 tonnes would be required to undergo an assessment on whether or not it’d make climate change worse.
The bill would also require the Climate Change Authority to develop a carbon budget — ie how much carbon we can emit annually if we’re going to meet our targets. The environment minister would have to assess projects against what’s left in the carbon budget.
The Greens, who have supported Labor’s climate bill and emissions reductions targets, said there was a gaping hole in Australia’s environment laws that allowed the government to approve new mines without factoring in its impact on climate change. This proposed legislation would change that.
“Australia’s environmental laws are broken. They are failing to protect nature and our iconic wildlife,” the Greens senator responsible for the bill, Sarah Hanson-Young, said in a statement.
“The State of the Environment Report made it clear that the climate crisis is a driving force behind unprecedented environmental decline and species extinction. The alarm has well and truly been sounded and it’s time to act.
“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’ climate trigger bill will stop new coal and gas. There are 114 new coal and gas projects headed to the environment minister’s desk for approval — not a single one should be approved without considering the impact its emissions will have on the climate.”
The Greens already pushed for this legislation to be included in Labor’s bill enshrining a 43 per cent emissions reduction target by 2030 last month, but the government said no.
Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek said the government wouldn’t rule out such a mechanism in future, but it doesn’t sound promising.
Labor’s climate targets are expected to pass the Senate this week to be written into law. But without the numbers in parliament the climate trigger bill looks unlikely to go anywhere for now.