At the Greens’ first face to face Party Room meeting of the year on Monday 7 February before Parliament resumes, the party will confirm the approach it will take to Labor’s climate legislation in balance of power in the Senate and the House in the likely event of a change of government at the upcoming election.
With few sitting weeks likely between the resumption of Parliament after the election and the next UN climate summit in Egypt in November, and with a substantial amount of Labor’s climate policy requiring legislation, the Greens will seek a temporary moratorium on new coal, gas and oil projects until the Egypt Summit so detailed discussions can take place and new climate laws enacted before the summit begins.
Although the Greens’ policy remains for the rapid phase out of coal and gas and net-zero emissions by 2035, about which the Greens will announce further policies during the election campaign, the circuit-breaker proposal from the Greens only applies to new coal and gas projects, not existing ones.
With Australian action on coal and gas vital to the next climate summit’s success, the Greens say their approach in the Senate will be to improve not block Labor’s legislation, but that opening up new coal and gas projects will be a likely obstacle to progress.
It comes with new research showing that if the 114 currently proposed coal, oil, and gas projects are allowed to continue, they will emit pollution equivalent to 2.5 times Australia’s annual carbon emissions. The Betaloo project alone will increase Australia’s emissions by an estimated 13%, something not accounted for in Government or Labor climate modelling.
With the United States and the United Kingdom leading a global push to phase out coal and gas, but with Labor and Liberal both committed to opening new coal and gas projects, the Greens say the only way Australia will take action on coal and gas is with a change of government and the Greens in balance of power.
MPs at the 7 February Party Room meeting will also be joined by the 3 lead Senate candidates in South Australia, Queensland and NSW, where the Greens are aiming to win new seats at the next election, as well as candidates in key lower house seats the Greens are targeting.
Polling from Essential suggests that 62% of Australian voters support a stop on new coal mines, including 70% of Labor voters. Polling has also found the Greens’ climate targets have the most popular support of any of the parties, according to Resolve. A power sharing Parliament is a likely outcome from the next election and, even if Labor achieves a majority in the House, the Greens are set to hold the balance of power in the Senate, potentially in our own right.
“Australia needs to stop opening up new coal and gas mines,” said Greens Leader, Adam Bandt.
“We want a pause on coal and gas while talking. It’s a pretty reasonable position. It’s not even about existing coal and gas projects, we’re just saying don’t open up new ones. You’ve got to stop pouring petrol on the fire before you can put it out.
“After we kick the Liberals out, I’m sure we can work with Labor to pass their climate legislation before the next climate summit to help boost climate action worldwide, but opening up new coal and gas mines is a problem.
“We have differences of views about how quickly we should get out of existing coal and gas, but everyone can surely agree that we shouldn’t open up new coal and gas projects.
“With everyone from the International Energy Agency to the United Nations saying there must be no new coal and gas projects, this temporary freeze is a modest demand that no sensible government could reasonably refuse.
“The only way we’ll get a pause on new coal and gas projects is with the Liberals out and the Greens in balance of power.”