Environmentalists fear the federal government’s main policy to reduce emissions will become less effective in the wake of a review.
The government has accepted most of the recommendations from a review of the Emissions Reduction Fund steered by former Business Council of Australia president Grant King.
It includes rewarding polluters with tradeable credit if they keep emissions below a certain level, cutting red tape in the scheme, getting billions of investment from the private sector and allowing carbon capture.
Through that method, emissions are stored underground in vegetation and geological areas.
Energy Minister Angus Taylor appears to be steering clear of a parliamentary battle over legislation to allow carbon capture, saying he will instead look to change the methodology of the scheme.
Mr Taylor says carbon capture is widely accepted.
“The oil industry has been using this for various means for many, many years,” he told ABC radio on Tuesday.
But environmentalists disagree, with Greenpeace saying putting taxpayer money towards it is alarming.
“Carbon capture and storage has never been viable anywhere in the world at scale and it’s a deluded fantasy to think that Angus Taylor can get it right where the rest of the world has failed,” the organisation said.
The Australian Conservation Foundation says the recommendations make the scheme weaker and less able to cut emissions.
“Grant King is proposing the government give carbon credits to our biggest polluters for staying below legally required pollution limits, which is akin to giving cash to drivers for staying under the speed limit, or more accurately rewarding drivers who go 80 in a 100 zone with a free pass to later drive at 120 km/h.”
Labor leader Anthony Albanese says he will look closely at the government’s response to the review.
“What is very clear is they’ll probably have another plan in a month by the time that parliament comes back in June,” he told reporters in Tumbarumba.
The government’s Climate Change Authority is also reviewing the Emissions Reduction Fund, which has been rebadged as the Climate Solutions Fund.
It was topped up last year with $2 billion and the government hopes to get the same from private sector investment.
The Investor Group on Climate Change says “structural weaknesses” of the policy need to be addressed in order for that to happen.
Mr Taylor says the government’s emissions reduction goal of 26 to 28 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030 is a “floor not a ceiling”.
“We’d love to be able to achieve net zero by 2050 but ultimately that will depend on the pathways of technologies to deliver that without damaging the economy,” he said.