‘Climate trigger’ back on the agenda as Greens issue big Nature Positive demand

Dan Jervis-Bardy
The Nightly
3 Min Read
Greens leader Adam Bandt said the policy – designed to block new fossil fuel projects – would be a key demand in negotiations on the Nature Positive Plan and any potential power-sharing deal with Labor if it is forced into the minority after the next election. 
Greens leader Adam Bandt said the policy – designed to block new fossil fuel projects – would be a key demand in negotiations on the Nature Positive Plan and any potential power-sharing deal with Labor if it is forced into the minority after the next election.  Credit: William Pearce/The Nightly

Labor could be forced to include a “climate trigger” in its controversial overhaul of nature laws, as big business warns such a move would risk investment and imperil the net zero transition.

Greens leader Adam Bandt said the policy – designed to block new fossil fuel projects – would be a key demand in negotiations on the Nature Positive Plan and any potential power-sharing deal with Labor if it is forced into minority after the next election.

Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek is facing an uphill battle to get any of her nature laws through Federal Parliament as the Greens and Opposition dig in against it.

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As Ms Plibersek was busy introducing laws to establish a new federal EPA on Wednesday, her department quietly outlined the next steps for the final and most controversial part of her Nature Positive Plan.

Consultation will focus on six contentious areas: the assessment and approval system, the process to calculate the cost of repairing environmental damage, First Nations engagement, regional forest agreements, exemptions from the laws, and climate change.

A document outlining the next steps said consulting on the issues didn’t amount to a commitment to “alter any current policy settings”.

But the mere reference to climate change was enough to prompt fears from big business that the Federal Government might include a “climate trigger” as part of the plan’s final tranche.

The policy would require a project’s greenhouse gas emissions to be considered during an assessment.

Business Council of Australia chief executive Bran Black said a “climate trigger” would subject more proposals to assessment under federal nature laws, clogging up the system and potentially delaying renewable energy projects.

Mr Black said the Federal Government had made an “iron-clad” guarantee not to pursue the change.

Asked in question time on Thursday if such a promise was made, Mr Albanese said: “No”

Labor has long resisted pressure to adopt a climate trigger, which the Greens, climate and environmental groups believe is one mechanism to stop coal and gas projects.

The landmark Samuel inquiry into federal nature laws, which led to the Nature Positive Plan, did not recommend the policy.

The plan does call for proponents to submit estimates for greenhouse gas emissions across the life of their project, and detail how the pollution would be managed in line with the Government’s climate targets.

Labor is now facing a fresh push to adopt a “climate trigger” after Mr Bandt confirmed it would be a key demand during talks on the Nature Positive Plan.

The minor party’s votes in the Senate will be needed if Peter Dutton’s Coalition opposes the laws.

Mr Bandt signalled it could also be a condition of the Greens’ support for Labor in a hung parliament, which commentators consider a genuine possibility after the next election.

“We’re going to push the Government to do what the scientists are calling for and that stops opening new coal and gas mines,” he said.

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