Topics: climate change, Paris climate conference, Office of Climate Change and Renewables Innovation, nuclear energy, coal seam gas
Greg Hunt, good morning.
So the Prime Minister there does mention trading schemes as one of the mechanisms you can use – whatever does the job most effectively.
Its time might come?
Look, I think for Australia we've managed to establish a system which is working – reducing emissions – a very, very successful first auction where our approach reduced emissions by 47 million tonnes – or four times the amount from the entire carbon tax experiment period.
And interestingly, the UN has a system with many of our features, the World Bank has adopted an auction which is very close to the Australian model, and even the international aviation industry is looking to the Australian model.
So I think we have, for Australia, a long term structure which is working, which is seeing 500 firms and projects registered for the next auction.
So we have a very solid platform, we're going to meet our targets for 2020, and my expectation and belief is that we'll meet and beat our 2030 targets as well.
But when China signs up in 2017 to a nationwide scheme, you throw them in with the EU, that's 40 per cent of the total global emissions will be covered by carbon markets.
Does that not impact on your thinking at all?
Well I think we need to look very carefully. Many people would look at the European system and say – very well intentioned, but it's been in a period of flux for really well over half a decade now.
We have an extremely stable system in Australia.
It's providing long term signals, incentives to reduce emissions, it's actually reducing emissions.
And each country should be able to choose their own system.
Ours is actually a very conventional market mechanism. It's an auction as opposed to a trading scheme.
And this system, as I say, is being replicated in large measure by the UN, the World Bank and – as is likely the case – the international aviation system.
So the different approaches of a trading system versus an auction – there's an awful lot to be said for a highly effective pure market auction.
Now as you travel and you'll be going to France as part of that as I understand it, preparing for the conference to come…
…is the approach basically to start with a fairly modest position and then just toughen up over the years?
Look, what I think the world will do at the big Paris conference at the end of the year – this is arguably the most important round of climate negotiations since the Kyoto Protocol was struck – is it will get an outcome.
And we've brought the likely trajectory of temperature change down from between four and five degrees to the latest estimates of about 2.7.
I think the Paris process will agree on a two degree outcome. It won't all be achieved at Paris and therefore what you suggest is right.
The world will come back in 2020 and 2025 and 2030 on likely expectations – to take what we get now and then to improve and tighten it on each successive negotiation round.
There was a poll conducted in Malcolm Turnbull's seat on coal mining and six in 10 supported either no new mines and no expansion of existing mines.
You've worked with Tony Abbott, and now Malcolm Turnbull. Is there a difference in approach on these issues for Malcolm Turnbull?
Look, there are both continuities and of course there are differences.
We have a very solid policy base, but Malcolm Turnbull has a very clear, strong, passionate view about climate change and reducing emissions – and innovation and the opportunities that are there.
So together since he's come in, we've created an Office of Climate Change and Renewables Innovation.
We are deliberately saying to the world that we have to double our renewables in the large scale sector between now and 2020 – and inviting investment and building confidence.
So he is about innovation, that's been his career and his life, and he's very focused on reducing emissions – but maintaining the best, strongest pressure on keeping electricity prices down.
So this focus on innovation is very much what we're about.
But is that a change in rhetoric or – is it a change in rhetoric or will it eventually lead to new policies?
Well let me give you three examples of things that are occurring.
One is the Office of Climate Change and Renewables Innovation within my own portfolio.
Only yesterday what we saw was the announcement of new vehicle emission standards for Australia.
That means we're moving towards what's called the Euro 6 standard, tighter emissions standards, cleaner air in our cities – probably a saving of about 75 million tonnes over the coming decade.
And thirdly, we're putting in place – and Josh Frydenberg and I will do this together – a National Energy Productivity Plan.
And that will be about improving the standards – whether it's for lighting, whether it's for appliances, for new technology.
So they're three big things that are occurring which are evolutions.
Now we're talking – also there were discussions this week about a nuclear waste dump, in effect, in Australia, but that's basically bringing back our own material and burying it once they're done with it overseas.
But why stop there? If Australia is set up for that kind of arrangement, why would it not provide this kind of facility for the rest of the world and potentially make a killing?
So to Jay Weatherill's credit – and he's the South Australian Premier – he has put in place a Royal Commission into the nuclear fuel cycle.
We'll wait and see what that has to say.
One of the things it will consider is whether we become more involved in the nuclear fuel cycle.
Of course we sell uranium, which is not used for lava lamps, it's used for nuclear energy.
And so we are part of that. The question – and many people have put this on the table, including Bob Hawke – we should be enriching, selling, leasing and taking back – and then there's the other option which you've raised.
So we approach this with an open mind. We'll look at the results of the Royal Commission.
Nuclear energy is one of the many forms of zero emissions energy which will be available.
And what's my broad vision, and our broad vision – we progressively move towards low and zero emissions energy over the coming decades.
Do you take my point though? If it was found that you can do this perfectly safely for Australian material, then why would you not offer that to the rest of the world when they're screaming out for it?
Look I think it is a practical question, not an ideological question.
There is a Royal Commission and I frankly welcome that Royal Commission because it's been brought forward by a state Labor government, you have a federal Coalition government – that's a good combination to look at these questions with an open mind.
And the world is looking for solutions in this space, that's absolutely true.
Now on coal seam gas – and that issue doesn't get any easier – what is wrong with the simple proposition that's put that you give the farmers a right of veto? They decide, they say yes or no to both exploration and extraction?
Sure. So this is overwhelming and primarily a matter for the states under the Constitution.
What have I said over a period of years? I've actually encouraged the gas producers to say to the farmers, “we will not explore or extract on your land without your consent.”
And I have argued that the gas producers should give that right to the farmers to control who comes onto their land.
In New South Wales, we have seen progress on that front. I think it would be valuable to see that same progress in other states. And it's…
Do you think they will? Do you think the states are moving towards that position?
I think that the states should move towards that position.
I know that Josh Frydenberg is going to take that to them when the energy ministers get together under his chairing role in the next month.
But there is a pathway forward where the producers recognise the right of farmers to control who comes on to their land.
It's a moral right, it's not at this moment, because of the Constitution, a legal right.
But frankly, in the 21st century, the right way to do this is for the gas companies to effectively say, “we won't assert our legal right over your moral right”.
And in the real world, it won't work unless there's farmers' consent.
Now I don't know whether you're interested in the Melbourne Cup, but it seems to me there's an omen bet for you there: Trip to Paris, second favourite.
Well, look, it's a very nice option, but everything that Malcolm has done as Prime Minister seems to have been a winner and there's a horse – number 20, Bondi Beach – so I'm backing Bondi Beach.
I'm sure that's one for the boss. Okay, thanks for that.
It's a pleasure.