Topics: Paris climate summit
Greg Hunt, welcome back to Lateline.
Mr Turnbull has announced that Australia will ratify Kyoto II.
What impact will that have on this country's emissions?
Well what it does do is, it allows us to make use of the achievements of the past.
And it allows us to be in a position to have a very ambitious 2030 target, which we do have – the minus 26-28 per cent.
It also places Australia in a very important role internationally.
Yesterday the plenary hall of the global climate change conference stopped and applauded Australia's commitment.
It was a powerful symbol.
Of course, this is a very important development under Prime Minister Turnbull.
It says that Australia is deeply engaged.
And in particular, what impressed people is not just the commitment, but the fact that we are meeting and beating our 2020 targets and we're doing so with formal national statements, five years ahead of those targets.
If we're ahead of our targets, why aren't we being more ambitious?
Well, what this does is, it sets us up to achieve our 2020 target and sets us up to achieve our 2030 targets.
And there are many other countries who have over the years made commitments and, through various sets of circumstances, not been able to achieve those commitments.
We are now on track to have met and beaten our first round of Kyoto commitments to 2012.
It's clear now – and I think everybody has accepted – that we will beat our commitments out to 2020, which was rejected by many of our critics.
But now they've had to accept that we were right all along.
And now we're already, 15 years ahead of time, in a very strong position for our 2030 targets.
So it's likely that we will overachieve in our 2020 targets and that will be a good thing.
We're not changing those targets but in the real world, the physical world, it's likely that we will overachieve significantly.
We're already 28 million tonnes below our carbon budget and that is likely to be advanced still further over the next five years.
Mr Turnbull has also announced $1 billion in aid money will be spent on projects to reduce emissions in developing countries.
Is that an appropriate use of Australia's aid budget?
Well of course it is. This is about ensuring that countries are able to adapt to climate change, particularly in the Pacific region.
We will be focusing on country-to-country aid.
We are very good at working with Pacific island neighbours. We are very good at working with them on their priorities, but with Australian support.
I've got to say that Julie Bishop has become an absolute master in this space of delivery of Australian aid in a way which meets our global objectives, our regional objectives, but their national needs.
And I think this is positive and constructive and something which has been embraced around the world.
Again, yesterday the plenary hall, the conference of the climate change convention when the Prime Minister announced that, stopped and applauded widely.
It's a sign of Australia's international standing, following on from our election to the Green Climate Fund as a co-chair and our chairing with unanimous support of the other countries the 197 country pre-Paris Montreal Protocol agreement round.
Erwin Jackson from the Climate Institute has tonight said Australia's commitment to reduce emissions by 26-28 per cent by 2030 leaves us at ‘the back of the pack’ with average emission cuts from other comparable nations at 35 per cent.
Why aren't we being more ambitious with our targets?
Well, we are being ambitious. In fact, a year ago nobody would have predicted that we would achieve a minus 26-28 per cent target range.
But in global terms, it is the equal highest per capita reduction amongst G20 countries, along with Brazil.
That's a halving of emissions per capita between now and 2030.
And then when you look around the world, you see Turkey at plus 231 per cent, China at up to 150 per cent.
If can I draw you back to the point Erwin Jackson was making…
Yes and, but I'm…
…are you disputing his claim…
Well, I am. Of course I am.
…that comparable nations are doing an average of 35 per cent?
Look, I am disputing the basis on which he does that.
When you look at the great economies of the world, whether it is China, whether it is India, whether it is Russia, when you then go to Korea at minus four per cent, Japan at minus 25 per cent, the United States is the same set of targets as Australia – minus 26-28 per cent, but on a different time frame.
And then Canada and New Zealand are within two per cent of Australia and the EU's average is minus 34 per cent.
But in per capita terms, Australia is lifting heavily.
And we are doing more than our fair share because we are right at the front of the world in per capita reductions, which is a proxy for effort.
And I've got to say, the response that other nations have given us and the response on the floor of the conference hall has been overwhelming support – a sense that Australia is really leading through our saving of 90 billion tonnes at a global level, through the Montreal Protocol.
Our own commitments – the fact that we have made the announcement that we'll meet and beat our targets and sign onto the Kyoto Protocol – these are major international achievements acknowledged by the international community.
Minister, do you accept that by 2030, under the Government's current commitments, Australia will still be the highest per capita carbon emitting country in the world and still the most carbon intensive economy?
Well, I don't believe that's the case at all. I understand that there are many – or there are countries in the Middle East that have very high figures.
We are starting from a higher base. That is absolutely true.
I cannot change history or the fact of the economy as it is.
But what we have done is set a policy which will see us reduce from being the 14th highest emitter in the world down to the 25th highest emitter by 2030.
That is a very significant change.
So we go from being the 14th highest emitter in the world in terms of gross emissions, down to being the 25th.
That says that there are real reductions. There are dramatic per capita reductions and there is a significant reduction or improvement in our global standing on overall national emissions.
Fourteen down to 25 – that is indisputable in terms of our overall national emissions and something to be welcomed, I would hope.
Greg Hunt, we have to leave it there. All the very best with the talks over there in Paris.
Thanks very much. And I have to say, the mood is very optimistic and I hope and believe that we will get a genuine and good global agreement. Thanks Emma.