Safeguard a 'once in a decade' chance to cut emissions
Author: Chris Bowen
Labor has labelled its changes to the safeguard mechanism as the best chance in a decade to cut emissions from big polluters as the government continues on a collision course with the Greens over new fossil fuel projects. Federal energy minister Chris Bowen said the parliament had a rare opportunity to lower the cap on emissions from big polluters by supporting the revamped safeguard mechanism. "This is the biggest chance the parliament has had in more than a decade to actually get a sensible framework to reduce emissions from all our big emitters," he told ABC's Insiders program. The proposed mechanism, which needs the support of the Greens and two other crossbenchers to pass through parliament, would cap the emissions of Australia's 215 biggest polluters. Companies that breach the limit would be forced to buy carbon offset credits or trade their emissions with other firms. The Greens have indicated their support for the scheme on the condition of a ban on new coal and gas projects. But Mr Bowen said bans on new coal and gas developments were not on Labor's agenda. He said fossil fuels - particularly gas - would play a key bridging role in keeping the lights on during the "biggest economic transformation since the industrial revolution".