The Greens party in Australia backed the government’s climate change legislation on Wednesday, opening the way for a law enshrining a goal to reduce carbon emissions by 43 percent by 2030, but indicated it would reject new fossil fuel projects.
Since the Greens rejected a carbon strategy proposed by a Labor administration in 2009, Australian politicians have fought over climate policy for more than a decade.
The failure of the program triggered a series of U-turns on climate policy, resulting in the dismissal of four prime ministers by their parties and playing a significant role in the loss of a conservative administration in the previous election in May.
“Labor said passing this bill will end the climate wars. The Greens will do our bit,” Greens leader Adam Bandt said in a televised speech to the National Press Club in Canberra.
“But Labor is set to undo parliament’s work by opening new coal and gas projects unless we stop them,” he warned.
The Greens gained a record number of seats in the May election, indicating increased concern about climate change in the face of catastrophic bushfires and floods, and the government needs their help to get legislation passed through parliament.
The climate change bill would codify Australia’s commitment under the Paris Agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 43 percent from 2005 levels by 2030.
The proposal is expected to succeed in the lower house, where Labor has a majority, when it was tabled last week.
Labor requires the backing of the 12 Greens senators and one additional senator in the Senate for the measure to succeed, since Labor does not have a majority in the upper chamber and the opposition has threatened to reject it.
After Bandt spoke, Climate Change and Energy Minister Chris Bowen told the reporters, “It’s now very clear that our legislation will pass the parliament,”
The Greens have long advocated for a considerably more aggressive 2030 emissions reduction goal, but Labor has refused to boost the 43 percent objective in order to shore up support in coal-mining and gas-producing electorates in May.
The Greens, on the other hand, negotiated adjustments to the measure, including assuring that the emissions goal could not be reduced.
“You can only end the climate wars by keeping coal and gas in the ground,” Bandt added.