Topics: Paris climate agreement
Minister good to talk to you.
Good morning Luke.
So at the end of the day, should we be changing policy necessarily in this country in order to meet the commitments that we've signed up to in Paris?
For people listening to me, the everyday punter, like me – what will change for us?
Look the first thing is, we actually prepared for this outcome and put in place the policies beforehand.
What does it mean? It means that we're looking at energy efficiency, which is good for households and their budget.
We're looking at vehicle efficiency, which is good for households and their budget.
And we're doing it without a carbon tax.
I understand Bill Shorten will use this as an excuse to try to bring back a carbon tax – we're not.
We're not going there. We've got policies that are actually working.
And perhaps the most important thing for many of your listeners is it means we're not going alone.
It means that China and India, Brazil and Russia and Indonesia, as well as the United States and Canada and the EU are all on board.
So we're now part of the first genuine global agreement on this topic, but we're doing it with measures that are about protecting Australian households, not hurting them.
And that's frankly the difference between us and what the Labor Party wants to do.
Okay. So let's say two years from now, one of the countries who signed up the other day says – you know what, we wish we could do what we said we'd do, so just to advise you – because I think they've got to advise everyone else for 12 months out and in writing that they're not going to play ball anymore – do those countries face any sanctions?
So they could say what they wanted to yesterday or the day before. Look, I don't want to be negative here but I just want to see how binding it is.
The reality is that a country could go to an election in two months' time, the people could specifically say no, we don't want to do that, and then the leader of that country could then write to the UN and say we're out in 12 months and there's nothing that can be done about it.
Isn't that true?
Well it's not a binding international agreement in terms of the targets – that is absolutely correct.
Our preference would have been for that – that's probably the only real and significant element that we would have wanted – but we all knew that that wasn't possible for the United States, it wasn't on China's agenda, but it also means that there are no sanctions or penalties if a country falls short of its target.
Now it happens to be Australia met and beat its first round of targets in 2012…
…despite all the critics.
We're going to meet and clearly beat – clearly beat – our second round of targets to 2020.
It's been a deep disappointment to many of the Greens and the Labor Party people that we'll do it, we'll do it on our watch and we'll do it without a carbon tax.
And we're also on track to meet and beat our 2030 target.
So as a country we're doing the right thing, we're doing it without driving up electricity prices, and frankly the Labor Party wants to massively hike electricity prices and the Greens want to send them through the roof.
We don't and we won't.
And in fact electricity prices came down by the largest amount on record when we repealed the carbon tax, so…
Well they certainly did…
They certainly did, I felt that at home, I know plenty of listeners would have felt the same thing.
But what confounds simple people like me, with respect Minister, is I hear what you say, and the other side say you know, all you're doing is giving money to the ‘ big polluters’, to quote the former Prime Minister, and they say we've got to stop mining coal and all these other things.
If we’re on track, if we’re ahead of where we said we'd be, why is it that we can do that by so-called paying the big polluters, what the hell are the other mob saying when they say we have to stop mining coal and the like?
I just – that does not compute.
Sure. Well a lot of what the ALP says doesn't compute, and I think the public is on to them on that.
The first thing is that we're not paying large firms to pollute.
Labor actually gave – believe this – $5.5 billion to brown coal generators.
They gave $5.5 billion to brown coal generators – not to stop, but to keep going. We actually abolished that.
Two thirds of our funding has gone to farmers and landscape managers to reduce emissions by capturing carbon in trees and in soil – all internationally verified as being highly effective.
And one of the elements of this global deal was a real focus, the strongest focus ever, on reducing emissions through improving forests – precisely the sort of things we're doing in Australia.
So by being sensible, by making sure that your economy becomes more efficient, you're – as well as improving the landscape, you can actually get the outcomes that the world wants.
How come – I though the Prime Minister said that we were going to remain with the former policies of the former Prime Minister Tony Abbott in relation to dealing with the environment.
One of those was not to invest in wind farms. Is this Malcolm Turnbull – and I don't know what role you've played in this Greg, I'm sure you'll tell me – but is this Malcolm Turnbull saying right, that was then, this is now, and really establishing himself?
Because we know the ALP have spent every waking hour almost saying that Malcolm Turnbull is just Abbott-lite.
Is this him trying to separate the party form the former policies of Tony Abbott, and won't this really p conservatives off?
Look we actually struck an agreement with the Senate back in June, and the agreement with the Senate crossbenchers was that we would focus this body called the Clean Energy Finance Corporation on emerging technologies such as large scale solar, battery storage, which I think is a hugely prospective opportunity for reducing householder costs, and offshore wind, because of course many people – many communities have their internal debate.
Now what this final mandate or set of rules for the Clean Energy Finance Corporation does is it translates absolutely and faithfully what was agreed between myself and the Senators six months ago.
And so we've been deeply faithful to that.
Along the way there had been a draft proposal which went further than what was agreed with Senators.
And so what we've finalised and decided upon we've now put into law as the mandate is the agreement with the crossbench Senators that we'd focus on emerging technologies, things such as large scale solar, battery storage, and offshore wind.
But isn't that exactly what Tony Abbott said he wouldn't do?
Look it's a middle ground is the honest answer, and that is it's a middle ground in the sense that it's returning this Clean Energy Finance Corporation to its original purpose, and the agreed purpose with the Senate crossbench of emerging technologies.
There had been a draft proposal which frankly went further, and put in place a series of prohibitions.
They weren't required or contemplated under the Senate agreement, so I think for me it's very important to honour absolutely any agreements that we strike as a Government and I strike personally with Senate crossbenchers, or the ALP, or the Greens.
That question of…
Right, so the former PM went too far?
Look I think our mandate was more – the draft was further than the agreement with the Senators – we put it all in place.
And frankly I've been fortunate to work under two Prime Ministers that have been personally very supportive, and together we've put in place a series of things.
And under Malcolm Turnbull what he's also brought has been the focus on energy efficiency and vehicle efficiency, and battery storage – three things that reduce householder costs.
And at the same time we get rid of an electricity tax under Labor, and we will fight them if they want to bring back – which they do – an electricity tax on every one of your listeners at the next election.
Final question – I know you're busy, and I really appreciate your time, you know I enjoy talking to you, and it's always good to get your perspective on things.
It’s a pleasure
But coming back to where I began, if the agreement isn't binding, aren't I right to think well this was a group of like-minded people who got together, produced a statement that makes it look like we're actually doing something, but at the end of the day any member who signed that agreement can go back and not do what they said they'd do and there's no consequences? That's true isn't it?
There are no legal consequences if they don't meet their targets – that is true. But there are enormous points of pressure.
Now I think the listening audience can feel very confident that we're in a great place having beaten our 2012 targets, being on track to clearly beat our 2020 targets, and being on track to beat our 2030 targets.
Others haven't always honoured their agreements in the past, that is true, but the difference this time is everybody's in the cast, everybody's made their commitments.
If countries fall short of that, or if indeed they renege on it I think there will be enormous internal and external pressure and criticism.
Alright thanks for your time, all the best for Christmas and the new year, thank you Greg.
Take care Luke.