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Greens issue climate policy demands

Greens leader Adam Bandt accuses Labor of being "wedded to new coal and gas".

Greens leader Adam Bandt accuses Labor of being "wedded to new coal and gas". Photo: AAP

New coal and gas projects could inhibit the government’s proposed changes to a safeguard mechanism designed to lower carbon emissions.

The Greens say they might not back the government’s proposed changes and the party could use its balance of power in the Senate to derail them if new fossil fuel projects are ticked off.

Leader Adam Bandt will use a speech to a Smart Energy Council summit in Sydney on Monday to accuse Labor of being “wedded to new coal and gas”.

“Every single new gas project championed by Scott Morrison is now backed by Anthony Albanese,” he will say.

“Saying and legislating net zero by 2050 is one thing, but doing it requires staring down coal and gas companies and telling them their expansion plans are incompatible with life on our planet.”

Mr Bandt wants legislation to phase out coal and gas production.

He said changes to the safeguard mechanism, which put a ceiling on emissions for some large companies, would still lead to an increase in gas pollution.

“All the big corporations have to do is buy a few tree-planting permits,” he will say.

“We are open to negotiating in good faith with the government about the safeguard to ensure we get real cuts to pollution and not just hot air.

“However, Labor’s plans for new coal and gas mines will be the biggest sticking point.”

Mr Bandt’s comments will come as green energy backers draw up a road map for Australia to become a global leader in zero-emissions trade and investment.

Smart Energy Council chief executive John Grimes said Australia needed to keep up with massive clean energy manufacturing stimulus packages announced in the United States, Japan, the European Union and the United Kingdom.

“The key challenge is how we best leverage our unrivalled, world-scale, low-cost renewable energy resources,” he said.

Australia is the world’s largest exporter of iron ore and lithium, and a world leader in cobalt, nickel and copper.

Offshore wind farms, batteries and recycling could become strong industries in the new energy sector.

Tim Buckley, head of independent think tank Climate Energy Finance, said the “massive, once-in-a-century export, regional employment and investment opportunities” need a strategic response.

“The impacts of climate change pose a significant threat to Australia’s economy, not the least given our historically dominant exposure to fossil fuel exports,” he said.

The Climate Capital Forum report will be released at the Smart Energy Council event.

Speakers at the event include Mr Bandt, fellow federal MPs Zali Steggall and Allegra Spender, and NSW Treasurer and Energy Minister Matt Kean.

– AAP

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