The majority agreed with the bill's main idea (in parliamentary jargon, they voted in favour of giving the bill a second reading). This means that the senators can now discuss the bill in more detail.
Main idea of the bill
The bill creates an Emissions Reduction Fund so the Government can buy domestic greenhouse gas emissions reductions and offsets by reverse auction. It also makes some changes to the Carbon Farming Initiative, like introducing a 25-year-long option for carbon sequestration projects (right now all projects have to run for 100 years).
Carbon Farming Initiative
The Carbon Farming Initiative lets farmers and land managers earn carbon credits by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and storing carbon in vegetation and soils by changing their agricultural and land management practices.
Background to the bill
The Emissions Reduction Fund is a key part of the Coalition Government's Direct Action policy, which was an election commitment. It will replace the carbon price as the main part of the Australian Government's effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Australia has agreed with the Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which means that Australia has agreed to reduce emissions by five per cent of 2000 levels by 2020.
Read more about the changes made by the bill in the bills digest.