Climate Safeguard Mechanism Risks Safeguarding New Gas & Coal: Submission

The Australian Government’s Safeguard Mechanism is at risk of safeguarding new gas and coal projects and driving increased demand for low-integrity carbon credits without extensive reform, according to a submission from leading public policy think-tank the Australia Institute to the Federal Government.

To avoid increased reliance on low-integrity carbon credits, a more affordable and simpler $25 a tonne polluter-payment could fund climate solutions and industry policy to transition away from fossil fuels in the medium to long term, according to the submission.

Key Points from Submission:

  • The Safeguard Mechanism reforms leave the door wide open for new gas and coal projects, requiring steeper emission reductions from existing facilities or other parts of the economy.
  • Just five new gas and coal projects will add around 100 million tonnes of emissions between now and 2030, wiping out over half of the expected emissions reductions from the Safeguard Mechanism
  • The use of Credits (and the development of Safeguard Mechanism Credits) should be restricted until after the Chubb
  • Review into integrity issues int carbon market reports and is actioned.
  • A voluntary, fixed-price polluter-payment of $25 a tonne would be a more affordable way to raise billions for the Commonwealth to direct to industry policy to build climate solutions, including battery or electric bus manufacturing, energy efficiency and renewables.

“Tony Abbott’s Safeguard Mechanism policy has to date only safeguarded polluters,” said Richie Merzian, Climate & Energy Program Director for the Australia Institute.

“Any reforms should include a ban on new gas and coal projects. Only a handful of new projects would add around 100 million tonnes of onshore emission between now and 2030 and undermine Australia’s newly legislated 43% reduction target.

“If the Safeguard Mechanism isn’t reformed to ban big new gas and coal entrants, consideration should be given to what could. A ‘Climate Trigger’ amendment to the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act could get the job done and clamp down on new gas and coal projects.

“If Australia wants to become a renewable energy superpower, it needs to stop being a fossil fuel super power. Time to make gas and coal companies pay to pollute and to channel that money into building real climate solutions batteries and electric buses.”

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