Crime & Justice

Australia imposes emission limits on biggest polluters

Sydney, Australia, Mar 30 (EFE).- The Australian parliament on Thursday approved a law imposing emission limits on the country’s most polluting companies as a key step towards decarbonizing its economy and strengthening the policies to fight the climate crisis.

The “safeguard mechanism” law imposes emission limits on the 215 worst polluters of the country, including firms such as Santos, BHP, Anglo Coal, Woodside, Chevron and Rio Tinto, which account for around 30 percent of Australia’s total emissions.

The law, which establishes a “strict” limit on emissions, would make it mandatory for these companies to reduce emissions by 4.9 percent every year until 2030 or acquire carbon credits of equivalent value.

This implies cutting greenhouse gas emissions to the tune of 205 million tons by 2030 – equivalent of taking two-thirds of the nation’s cars off the road – Australian Climate Change and Energy Minister Chris Bowen said in a statement Thursday.

“Today is an historic day for the country to ensure our economy can take advantage of the opportunities of decarbonization and meet our ambitious climate targets,” said Bowen, adding that the reforms would safeguard the economy, climate and Australians’ futures.

The law was approved after an agreement on Monday between the Green Party, which initially wanted a ban on all new coal and gas projects, the ruling Labor Party and the support of independent lawmakers.

The Greens agreed to the legislation after fixing a firm cap on gross emissions, which ensures that the country cannot exceed the current annual emission of 140 million tons, with the party affirming that this would make more than 100 new hydrocarbon projects unviable.

The Safeguard Mechanism was first established during the Liberal government of Tony Abbott, but had limits far above the regular emissions of the most polluting companies, which continued to rise.

The Australian government has pledged legally to reduce polluting emissions by 43 percent by 2030 – compared to the 2005 levels – which amounts to carbon emission cuts to the volume of 205 million tons. The country aims to reach carbon neutral status by 2050.

The fight against climate change was one of the main poll planks in the May 2022 electoral victory of Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, which ended a nine-year rule of the Liberal-National coalition, which had protected the production of coal and other fossil fuels.

The conservative coalition, which had in 2014 revoked a pioneering carbon tax by the last Labor government of former PM Julia Gillard, believes that the latest law could trigger a hike in energy prices and would cause investments in the fossil fuel sector to move offshore. EFE


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