Manufacturing News, Sustainability

Albanese introduces reforms to crack down on industrial pollutants

Manufacturers' Monthly

Australia’s biggest carbon emitters will now be forced to reduce their emissions by at least 30 per cent by 2030.

Minister for climate change and energy Chris Bowen has released reforms to the Safeguard Mechanism, which limits the emissions of 215 of Australia’s industrial polluters in oil, gas, mining, and manufacturing industries.

The reforms follow the Labor Government’s climate change bill that was passed in September last year, which ensures Australia’s emissions reduction target of 43 per cent and net zero emissions by 2050 will be enshrined in legislation.

Bowen explained that the 215 facilities were responsible for 28 per cent of Australia’s emissions, therefore, they will be responsible for 28 per cent of emissions reduction.

“We will start primarily by taking the starting position as the emissions of each facility, and then between now and 2030 we will move to more of an industry baseline,” Bowen said.

“These proposed reforms have been carefully calibrated to deliver the policy certainty and support Australian industry needs through decarbonisation. There is much more to it than that, but these are some of the key points. This is pro-climate, pro-industry, pro competitiveness.”

The reforms to the Safeguard Mechanism have been proposed by industry heavyweights and big businesses, such as the the Business Council of Australia and the Australian Industry Group (Ai Group), to end policy uncertainty and enable a predictable emissions reduction pathway to net zero by 2050.

The Safeguard Mechanism was put in place by the previous Coalition Government and requires facilities that produce over 100,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases annually (around 215 facilities) to keep their net emissions below a baseline.

The reforms aim to support businesses in reducing their annual greenhouse emissions by 4.9 per cent till 2030 and deliver 205 million tonnes of abatement to the end of the decade, equivalent to cutting emissions from Australia’s cars by two-thirds over the same period.

While major business groups have welcomed the reforms, concerns were raised about how local businesses could remain competitive with international counterparts.

“The Safeguard Mechanism positions released by the Government today are pragmatic and take industry input seriously, but clearly there is a lot more work to do over the next few years by government and industry before these major climate policy reforms are fully bedded down,” said Innes Willox, chief executive of national employer association Ai Group.

“A core part of Australia’s climate balancing act is to build our competitiveness for the net zero emissions world that is coming without undermining our competitiveness in the messily transitioning world we operate in today.”

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