CANBERRA, AAP – A plan to allow Australia’s renewable energy agency to invest in non-renewable technologies has been shot down in the Senate.
The Morrison government wanted to expand the remit of an agency known as ARENA to allow it to invest in low-emissions projects such as carbon capture and storage, green steel and hydrogen.
But the Greens, Labor and crossbench senators teamed up to veto the changes.
“As a result, the government cannot use public money to fund coal and gas projects through the renewable energy agency,” Greens leader Adam Bandt said.
“It’s a really big win for the climate and it’s a huge blow to this coal and gas-fired government.”
Meanwhile, the Nationals are planning to pay farmers to cut their greenhouse gas emissions as part of a deal on climate change.
Leader Barnaby Joyce will take the proposal to the prime minister as part of negotiations on committing to net zero emissions by 2050.
The Nationals argue farmers have carried the cost of previous climate targets and need compensation for stronger action.
“If there is to be any move towards it (net zero) then farmers should be part of the solution,” Nationals deputy leader David Littleproud said.
“They shouldn’t be penalised like they have been in the past, where they have footed the bill for the country’s social conscience, and we just simply say that it’s time to square the ledger.”
Nationals senator Bridget McKenzie has also spoken out ahead of negotiations between the coalition partners.
“If the world is in fact moving toward a net zero future, Australia needs to ensure the rules and the methodologies that underpin it are fair, enforceable, agreed to by everyone and importantly in our national interest,” she said.
“We must be clear to ourselves as to what those objectives are before entering such negotiations.
“Failing to do so risks sleepwalking Australia into an international agreement that favours rich industrialised nations that already have the competitive advantage of established low-emission technologies such as nuclear power.”
Senior members of the Morrison government have reportedly considered taking a proposal for nuclear power to the next election.
The Australian newspaper reports the political and policy implications of a nuclear industry were weighed up by members of cabinet.
Lifting the moratorium on nuclear energy in a bid to cut greenhouse gas emissions and ease reliance on fossil fuels was central to their discussions.
The option was reportedly considered too dangerous without bipartisan support from the Labor Party.