Australia’s lower house passed an emissions reduction plan on Monday, allowing new fossil fuel projects under certain conditions, Reuters reports.
The plan now includes curbs on new gas and coal investments, as well as caps on total GHG emissions that the country’s biggest polluters can produce. It also requires all new gas projects in the Beetaloo Basin, located in the Northern Territory, to have net-zero carbon emissions and new gas fields that supply existing liquified natural gas plants to have net-zero reservoir emissions.
The new legislation forms part of the government’s pledge to cut Australian greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 43% by 2030. The country ranks in the top 20 for global carbon emissions per capita, according to Statista.
The opposition Greens Party had previously blocked all proposals that included approval for new fossil fuel projects. The governing Labor Party requires support from the Greens in the upper house of parliament to pass legislation.
The legislation will take effect on 1 July. Government statements say it will make approximately 215 oil, gas, mining, and manufacturing facilities that emit more than 100,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide-equivalent annually cut their GHG emissions by 30% by 2030.
Greens Party leader Adam Bandt said “coal and gas have taken a huge hit” with the updated legislation, adding that “we’ve derailed the Beetaloo and Barossa gas fields”.
However, the compromise means that the legislation no longer complies with global efforts to meet the 1.5°C climate target set out in the Paris agreement. Previously, the Greens had demanded a block on all new fossil fuel projects. The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) said on Tuesday that energy produced from fossil fuels must be cut dramatically from 61% today to 5% by 2050 if the target is to be maintained.
Former Greens leader Bob Brown said new fossil fuel projects were a “a colossal mistake”. However, he said the hard cap on emissions will stop about half the planned future coal and gas projects, Climate Change News reports.