House debates

Monday, 11 September 2023

Questions without Notice

Climate Change

2:18 pm

Photo of Stephen BatesStephen Bates (Brisbane, Australian Greens) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Minister for the Environment and Water. A new report by the UN has concluded that meeting the goals of the Paris climate agreement to limit warming to 1.5 degrees will require phasing out all fossil fuels. So why have you given approval to several coal projects since becoming minister?

Photo of Tanya PlibersekTanya Plibersek (Sydney, Australian Labor Party, Minister for the Environment and Water) Share this | | Hansard source

ERSEK (—) (): I think I've had pretty much the same question each week recently. Perhaps I'll go into some of the details about how these decisions are made. I've been very clear with the parliament about our government's determination to achieve net zero in Australia. I've made very clear the measures that we're taking: a target of 82 per cent renewable energy and the fact that we are committed to net zero. We've got a trajectory to net zero. But, on the issue of approvals, I think it's very important to say this: the Greens political party knows that emissions from coal and gas projects are covered by the climate minister's safeguard mechanism to make sure that all big polluters reduce their pollution.

The reason that the Greens political party should know about the safeguard mechanism is that they spent weeks negotiating it with the Minister for Climate Change and Energy. They negotiated the safeguard mechanism. They voted for it. They've defended it. They say they believe in the safeguard mechanism as a way of getting Australia to net zero. And yet, having negotiated it, defended it and voted for it, they now think that the climate minister should do something different to what the environment minister does, so you have two separate approval mechanisms, one on climate and energy and one on environment. It simply makes no sense. The Greens political party voted for a law to get emissions down. It's the safeguard mechanism. All new projects are assessed against that safeguard mechanism. That's what you agreed to. That's what you voted for. That's what we're doing. That's what we'll keep doing, because we're committed to getting to net zero.