Anthony Albanese’s new legislation, which will force Australia to cut carbon emissions by 43 per cent, has passed the House of Commons with support from the Greens and Blue-Green Independents.
The laws set a CO2 reduction target of 43 percent from 2005 levels by 2030 and net-zero emissions by 2050.
Coalition members opposed the bill, with the exception of Liberal MP Bridget Archer, who crossed the floor to see it pass by a vote of 89 to 55.
The bill will be scrutinized by a Senate inquiry due on August 31, after which it will be debated and expected to pass with support from the Greens and independent David Pocock.
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese speaks during a press conference at Parliament House in Canberra
Green Party leader Adam Bandt leaves Kensington Primary School with his partner after voting on the day of the general election
Celebrating the passage of the bill, Mr Albanese told reporters: “Today is a good day for business, a good day for workers and a good day for our environment.
“I am very pleased that the Climate Change Bill has passed the House of Representatives. This is the fulfillment of a core promise we made when choosing to reduce emissions by 43 percent by 2030.’
Green Party leader Adam Bandt – whose party holds the balance of power in the Senate – has struck a deal with Mr Albanese to back the bill but vowed to push for a total ban on new coal and gas projects.
He wants to build a climate barrier into environmental regulations to make it more difficult to permit new mines, saying: “The fight starts now to get Labor to stop the opening of coal and gas mines.”
The Greens wanted to take faster action against climate change and called for an emissions reduction target of 75 percent by 2030 during the election campaign.
Opposition leader Peter Dutton opposed the 43 percent emissions reduction target
The 2030 commitment is an increase on the former coalition government’s non-statutory target of 26 to 28 percent. The coalition supports the net zero target for 2050.
Independent MP Zali Steggall said the “next step” in Australia’s response to climate change must be to phase out oil, coal and gas.
She and other independents told reporters in Canberra they wanted greater cooperation with government but praised the approach Labor had taken.
“We still see questionable times where old-style politics is playing out,” Ms Steggall said.
“I don’t think it impresses many of us and it certainly doesn’t impress the Australian public.”
Climate Secretary Chris Bowen called the passage of the bill a “good day for Australia” and thanked the crossbenchers for working with the government.
“Renewable energy is the cheapest form of energy, renewable energy is key to reducing emissions and realizing the job opportunities that the climate emergency represents,” he told parliament on Thursday.
After consultations with the Greens, the government agreed to ensure that the emissions target can only be increased in the future, with a mechanism to increase its ambition.
There will also be more transparency and tougher requirements for the Climate Change Agency, the body tasked with advising on climate targets and policies.
Several changes proposed by independent MPs were backed by the government, including new legislation explicitly recognizing regional Australia.
The coalition did not support Independent MP Helen Haines’ amendment to ensure the Authority takes into account economic, employment and social benefits for rural and regional Australia.
The government also agreed to ensure that the bill clearly states that it aims to advance climate action and is linked to science.
But the government and opposition voted against amendments proposed by Greens and Independent MP Andrew Wilkie to raise the emissions reduction target to 75 percent by 2030 and net zero by 2035.
Green Party Senator Mehreen Faruqi said her party helped improve the bill
“We went into the process in good faith, always with the intention of improving this really weak bill,” she told ABC Radio.
“But let’s be clear – coal and gas will blow that target up pretty quickly. And this fight will continue.”
Independent ACT Senator David Pocock said the 43 percent target enshrined in the legislation was not high enough, but it was important to have certainty.
Senator Pocock said he would not “postmark” the bill until it was properly scored.
“My job is to work with the crossbench, to work with the government to make sure whatever we do legislate in September has integrity,” he said.
The independent Dai Le (pictured Wednesday) has refused to back Labour’s Climate Change Bill over fears it will raise the cost of living
The independent Dai Le has refused to back Labour’s climate change bill over fears it will raise the cost of living.
The new MP for Fowler, who unexpectedly beat Kristina Keneally to win the once-safe Labor seat in western Sydney, said the bill lacked details on how it will affect poor Aussies.
Senior liberals have branded it a pointless virtue signal, and Ms Le – the first refugee to become MP – has also refused to back it, fearing it could exacerbate pressure on living costs from rising electricity bills.
“I have decided to abstain from voting on the Climate Change Act pending more details on how its implementation will affect low-income families in Fowler,” she said Wednesday.
“I don’t see the current climate protection law as an emergency. At the moment, Australian families are in real hardship and we need to focus on low-income families who are struggling with high food, fuel and energy prices,” she said.
Labor has insisted the transition to renewable energy will bring electricity prices down over time – but has already backtracked on its campaign pledge to cut bills by $275 a year by 2025 amid rising energy costs this winter.
Ms Le, who called for an extension of the fuel tax cut to 22 cents a liter above the 28th, the highest level since 2001.