Gas far from cooked as energy role with safeguard: PM
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has affirmed gas projects will still play a role alongside renewable energy, despite a Greens call to scrap fossil fuel projects for the party to back the safeguard mechanism.
The mechanism would lead to the biggest 215 polluters being forced to cap their emissions, with companies that breach the limit required to buy carbon offsets or trade their emissions with other firms.
It is a key plank of the government's effort to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.
A Senate inquiry report recommended parliament pass the mechanism, but the Greens have said the scheme would lead to an increase in pollution from coal and gas.
Greens leader Adam Bandt has not said whether the party would back the proposal, because of concerns over its implementation.
The prime minister told the Australian Financial Review's Business Summit gas projects were needed.
"(Businesses) want to move towards renewables and to power them but they need the firming capacity of gas," he told the summit on Tuesday.
He said standing in the way of the safeguard mechanism being approved by parliament would have a "negative impact".
"Then you're not actually helping the transition," Mr Albanese said.
Mr Bandt said while the Greens were still locked in good-faith negotiations with the government, new coal and gas projects were not needed as part of the mechanism.
"What is becoming clearer by the day is there is no justification economically or environmentally for opening up new coal and gas projects," he told reporters in Canberra.
"The government thinks there is, and as of yet, they haven't convinced us, or I suspect the Australian people, that there is any case for opening up new coal and gas projects."
However, Mr Bandt stressed the call to scrap new projects was not an ultimatum.
He said the party was open to concessions in other areas, such as a pause on new projects or a climate trigger in environmental approval laws.
"We're prepared to look at all of those. So the at the end of the day, this is a test for the government.
"Ultimately, the government has to justify why it wants to keep opening new coal and gas. We want to see pollution from coal and gas go down because it's the main cause of the climate crisis."
Climate Change Minister Chris Bowen remains confident of parliament passing plans to cap emissions, despite the crossbench concerns.
"The opportunity for the parliament is to seize or squander this chance to get emissions down by 205 million tonnes," he told ABC Radio.
While the Greens are still locked in negotiations, the party is set to force the government to release modelling on how emissions would rise for new coal and gas projects brought into the safeguard scheme.
The government denied the request during an inquiry, claiming public interest immunity, but the Greens will seek to overturn the immunity claim through a Senate vote.
The vote is likely to be successful, with it having coalition backing, forcing the minister to hand over the documents by Thursday.
Mr Bowen says the Greens' ban on new fossil fuel projects would be "irresponsible".
The bill is due to be debated in the lower house on Wednesday.