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Bowen is open to change with crossbenchers emissions underway

by Anthony L. Gonzalez

Climate Change Minister Chris Bowen has indicated that he is more open-minded to negotiating government policy, talking to independent MPs, and suggesting that the emissions reduction target could be higher.

On Wednesday, Mr. Bowen told the National Press Club that the government would introduce legislation in the first week of the parliamentary session after the election on its 43 percent emissions reduction target.

But where the minister previously emphasized that the government does not need the support of other MPs, he explicitly invited negotiations on Wednesday, which is already underway, according to a new idea.

Bowen said the Albanian government would consider “sensible” changes to its climate legislation as long as they are consistent with Labour’s agenda and mandate.Bowen is open to change with crossbenchers emissions underway

He added that Labor’s target of cutting emissions by 43 percent this decade from 2005 levels had not been capped — the first time the government has openly admitted that climate austerity could run deeper.

His comments suggest Mr. Bowen will be more lenient on negotiations and potential compromises than he indicated after the election.

Earlier this month, Mr. Bowen said he does not want energy targets to be subject to a vote by MPs and another round of “climate wars”; the government then planned to introduce its reduction plan through regulation.

Open for discussion

Now the government is inviting people to vote and for input on the legislation itself.

News has learned that Mr. Bowen has already talked with many MPs, including Zali Steggall in the lower house and David Pocock in the Senate.

“I worked pretty hard in the first month to develop a good and respectful relationship with the crossbench,” Bowen said.

“But anything not in line with our mandate and agenda is not something we will cherish.”

Separately, the Greens have argued until recently that the government’s emissions reductions are far too ambitious for an election in which so many MPs who support more climate action were elected.

In another departure from his campaign rhetoric, where the ALP denied plans to increase emissions reductions, Mr. Bowen suggested that the overall reduction could be increased by 43 percent.

“It’s not a ceiling,” Mr. Bowen said. “We’re not going to see it as a ceiling. It is the modeled impact of our policy.”

To a certain extent

Upcoming MP for Wentworth Allegra Spender told news idea she would push for more emissions reductions from the outset and steps to ensure more action wouldn’t affect families dealing with rising electricity prices.

Independents like Allegra Spender won seats largely thanks to their commitment to climate action.

“New policies also need to be easy to scale so we can capitalize on another decade that will be crucial for both the climate and the economy,” said Ms . Spender.

“I’m hopeful that Australia will finally join the developed world in implementing fuel efficiency standards in light vehicles so that automakers can sell us cleaner, more fuel-efficient cars.”

Australia is one of only four members of the G20 without such passenger car fuel standards.

News idea understands that talks with Ms. Steggall centered on her proposal for a 60 percent cut and plans for a greener industry and public transport.

Mr. Pocock’s meetings with the minister focused on his commitment to rid a national emissions reduction scheme of what he believes to be carbon credits, or pollution offsets, which are provided in exchange for activities of questionable environmental value.

“I look forward to working constructively to ensure it is a target with integrity,” the new senator said.

“That requires addressing the need for greater integrity in the [Emissions Reduction Fund]strong independent advice to government and greater adoption of clean energy technologies, from [electric vehicles] and household items for large-scale clean energy production and battery storage.

“We need to ensure that households benefit from the cost savings that electrification brings.”

The government will likely need the support of the Greens and two other senators to legislate.

But Mr. Bowen said he would ensure any negotiations would not detract from the government’s agenda by removing all bills from parliament and going back to regulation.

“If Parliament does not want to approve it, we will just continue the work as we have already started,” said Mr. Bowen.

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