Topics: Paris climate summit
Greg Hunt good morning.
And good morning Marius.
Thanks indeed for joining us. Could I just get a broad sense of what has to come from this conference, in your estimate, for it to be a success?
Look I think the keys to success here are an agreement and a pathway to the world keeping temperature rise below two degrees.
That is the fundamental objective and question.
It's what the scientists have argued for, it's what the countries have a provisional agreement on. Obviously it's about delivering that.
But one of the interesting things is in the lead up to this conference Australia helped produce an outcome through the Montreal Protocol on synthetic greenhouse gases or ozone protection issues which saved the world 90 billion tonnes over the coming decades.
So it’s a really outstanding down payment and contribution.
Does the conference have to generate a legally binding agreement on a target of two degrees, or a legally binding agreement on other issues, or can you simply have some consensus idea?
So I think what's likely to come out is that nations sign up and commit themselves to participating in putting forward a target, and beyond that to measuring and verifying and reporting what they do.
We have always said we would be happy to go a step further and have binding targets because we think that that would make nations focus.
But we know that the United States and China won't accept that.
And therefore nobody's expecting that second level of legal commitment will come out of the conference.
And that expectation has been balanced for more than a year now.
At the end of the day I think there will be an agreement, it will be a legal commitment, but that will focus on the participation and the pledge, and the measurement – not on binding targets.
But when we make a promise we'll meet and beat it.
Okay but not legally binding. Can I go to the billion dollars that the Prime Minister has promised over the next five years in aid to the Pacific nations specifically to deal with climate issues?
This money comes from the existing aid budget Mr Turnbull said.
That's correct. So we've already provided $200 million to the Green Climate Fund.
And then this is primarily about country to country support overwhelmingly within our region.
But the Foreign Minister who controls the aid budget will make the allocations.
And so it's making sure that we are targeting and focusing support on climate adaptation, resilience within the region as a priority.
I was speaking to Bill Shorten a little earlier this morning and he says that if that money allocated for climate issues simply comes from the existing aid budget you are robbing Peter to pay Paul.
Look I imagine that no amount of spending is enough for Mr Shorten.
He'll have to set out exactly what he wants to do with his budget.
We have to work within the limits of the national finances, we have to be responsible. But I think this is a pretty fair and generous response.
And of course this was greeted with very, very strong applause, enthusiasm on the conference hall floor when the Prime Minister announced it – along with the commitment to ratify Kyoto II, or the second Kyoto period – again there was a spontaneous and widespread applause for Australia for that particular announcement from the Prime Minister.
But do we appear less generous than say Canada that's pledging $2.5 billion? We're pledging $1 billion over five years, Japan $10 billion.
Look one of the things that people who have spoken to me about again and again is – wow, we've heard the news that you are meeting your 2020 targets, we see this Kyoto Protocol commitment that is part of the discussions here in Paris about whether nations meet and beat their targets.
At the end of the day that is the single most important thing.
And on finance we are playing our part in a significant way.
Others will make their own assessments, but our commitment to meet and beat our 2020 targets, to sign up to Kyoto II, the enormous impact and response here, and then the fact that we then set and we will meet and beat our 2030 targets which are very significant – along with Brazil the highest of any G20 country on a per capita basis in terms of reduction.
To go to a Labor criticism again they say that this is Malcolm Turnbull selling a policy, but it's essentially – in the Turnbull satchel is the Tony Abbott policy, is that accurate?
Look you have a mixture of things which have been obviously developed over a number of years, and then specific initiatives to Malcolm Turnbull as Prime Minister.
In terms of his own initiatives, we've already seen the creation of an Office of Climate Change and Renewables Innovation, we've seen the announcement of the Kyoto Protocol, we've seen the funding, and the election of Australia to the Green Climate Fund as the global co-chair, as well as having done the same thing at the Montreal Protocol.
So he's added very, very significantly on top of what was already in place.
And by comparison I've got to say that all that Mr Shorten brings is the baggage of his predecessor in that he walks away from here, and in the end we all know what it means is he'll bring back higher electricity prices and a much higher carbon tax.
But Greg Hunt is there an ambivalence in the Turnbull approach given that the policy is substantially Direct Action – a policy he described in the past in 2009 as a farce, a con, an environmental fig leaf to cover a determination to do nothing?
I think you're stuck in the past there Marius, I'm sorry to say…
That's what Malcolm Turnbull said and hasn't resiled from.
…you’re stuck in the past…
Well the past is important.
The night that he was elected he made it absolutely clear that the policy we have is working.
I think what's occurred here is that it went it far further and was far better designed than anybody had expected or predicted.
And then it has delivered far more, even against those high standards of construction, than anybody had predicted.
It's delivered over 92 million tonnes of emissions reduction – an enormous amount – from just the first two auctions.
But on top of that we have the initiatives in relation to synthetic greenhouse gas reduction in Australia, our vehicle emissions standards, and on Friday the Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg is working with the States on a National Energy Productivity Plan.
So three big additional initiatives, but a fundamental policy which is working, delivering, and which we know will see Australia meet and beat our targets – something that not every country can say.
Greg Hunt thanks very much indeed for speaking with us from Paris this morning.
Thanks a lot Marius. And I've got to say the mood is upbeat, and I come away from here with realistic optimism, but with genuine optimism.
Thanks again, that is Greg Hunt the Environment Minister speaking to us from Paris.