Topics: Paris climate summit
The Environment Minister Greg Hunt is with the Prime Minister – well was with the Prime Minister, the Prime Minister's on his way back from Paris – but they've been at the climate conference. Welcome to RN Drive.
And good evening to you Patricia.
You're on the opposite side of the timeframe I know…
It is morning here – we've been going since early – but there's a lot of energy around the conference.
Now Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says the target of 26 per cent to 28 per cent by 2030 could be increased when a review is conducted in five years time.
Why wasn't it put to the party room?
Look I think there are two completely different things here.
Our target here is fixed, it's clear, it's absolute.
Now minus 26-28 per cent is a very strong target – one of the highest in the world in terms of per capita reduction, the equal highest in per capita reductions within the G20 with Brazil – and that's our position.
Now one of the things that may come out of this conference is five yearly reviews, in which case five years from now we'll have to consider our position and we've prepared ourselves for the long term.
We're meeting our targets, we're beating our targets for 2020.
But our targets here are clear and fixed. They're not up for negotiation at this conference.
And if the world comes back in five years to review – which on balance I think is likely – then we'll reconsider at that time our progress and how we're going.
So what are you going to do about all these Liberal MPs that are angry including Dennis Jensen?
They're outraged by the idea that in five years we might see an increase.
Look I think, with great respect, there is a false debate going on here.
Our targets here are not up for negotiation.
It's not the nature of this conference. And in some ways I think one or two folks in the media may have either misunderstood or misrepresented.
All of the countries have set their targets and ours is minus 26-28 per cent from 2005 to 2030.
It compares very favourably with countries around the world.
And that is our target. That's the only target that is on the table.
Tanya Plibersek said in Question Time today that the Prime Minister didn't even mention this target in his speech. Why didn't he mention the target?
Actually, with great respect, I was there for the speech, he talked about our targets and talked about per capita – talked about it interviews.
It's a three minute speech and what he was announcing was that we have met and will beat our 2020 target, and the big thing was the announcement about the Kyoto Protocol.
This brought the hall, the global plenary hall, to a standstill and brought applause.
And Australia was one of the heroes on the first day of the conference for our announcement.
This major [indistinct] of Australia ratifying Kyoto and that was precisely because he just set out the fact in the speech only seconds before – we set a deeply ambitious 2030 target, we are meeting and beating our 2020 target and today I announce that we will ratify the second period of the Kyoto protocol.
So that that was a major thing. There's no secret about our targets, we talk about it in every interview.
But these were three minute interventions with a focus on the major announcement that we referred to in what we're doing with targets, setting ambitious, meeting and beating our 2020 and then ratifying Kyoto Protocol.
What about the fact that the contribution to the Green Climate Fund is coming from the existing aid budget.
The Australian Council for International Development chief executive Marc Purcell suggests this is just repackaging announcements. Is that right?
No. With respect I think there's a misunderstanding there.
There's $200 million for the Green Climate Fund over a four year period.
That is part of a broader $1 billion climate funding package, most of which will come in the form of country to country aid.
What is Australia especially good at? It's especially good at working with neighbours in the Pacific Islands, neighbours in South East Asia and so they focus on direct country to country support –building their infrastructure, their resilience, the direct support where we have primary control over the direction of our funds – and it is focusing actually on that support between Australia and other countries within our region.
I think somebody may have got the wrong direction there. It's primarily country to country aid but within that $1 billion figure is included the $200 million for the Green Climate Fund.
You've talked about the mood being optimistic, but could this just be because there's been a lot of watering down and compromise?
I mean, you've previously conceded that Paris is unlikely to yield a perfect deal.
What do you think we will get out of Paris? What can we expect in coming days?
Look, I think that is an important question.
The likely outcome – and none of us can guarantee it, but the direction is very strong and with 150 plus world leaders yesterday it was arguably the greatest gathering of world leaders since 1948 – I think we will agree on a process that will achieve the two degree limit on warmth.
I think that that will be something which will involve not just this one meeting and set of pledges here, but the five year reviews which we have talked about.
I know that both the French President and the UN Secretary General talked about the five yearly review process yesterday, and that is likely to be at the centre of the outcomes.
And Australia has advocated and supported that, and it's really the Australian position – or what's been called the compromise position put forward by Australia – which is supported and endorsed by everybody from the French President to the Secretary General to countries both developed and developing.
With the backbenchers insisting that you stick to what was agreed to in the party room – and already we've seen a few breakouts yesterday with the Nationals, and you didn't sign the other communiqué led by Mr Key, and now of course these other issues around these five year reviews.
It sounds like your hands are pretty tied and you don't have much room to move. Is that the case?
Look I think we're in a very good situation.
We went through the processes to achieve a target domestically through the Cabinet and the Party Room.
We went through to achieve the Kyoto Protocol outcome, which of course is an extraordinary outcome.
And when you think of the debates of the past, the fact that this has had the endorsement of the joint party room and of the Cabinet is a very significant step, and we come with a…
Is this your way of pointing out that the Howard Government didn't just sign up to the first Kyoto Protocol?
Is that – are you trying to draw a distinction between different – different position you've taken that the Howard Government?
That is a fact of history, and the Turnbull Government has. And that is now a fact of future history.
So look, I am making the point, this was a contentious issue in the party room in the past.
The fact that we've resolved it and resolved it as well as we have is a very significant achievement, and an indication of support and unity.
I think that that was very positive, and of course it went through the Party Room last week.
But not a word came out about it until the Prime Minister's announcement yesterday, which is an indication of the smoothness.
On the issue of targets, let us be clear.
We have one target for Australia in terms of 2030, that's the minus 26-28 per cent.
And if in five years time the Government is part of an international new round of negotiations, well that will be a matter for that period of time.
But we've set our target. It is an ambitious target, it is a challenging target.
Do I believe we will meet and beat it? Yes.
Only on Monday the Climate Change Authority came out and for the first time said we would be on track to meet and beat our 2020 target.
So that's the independent umpire endorsing the national accounts.
And so we've got a story which is a very proud story.
And it's built on the fact that only three weeks ago, Australia helped co-chair – out of 197 countries, we were one of two to co-chair the 90 billion tonnes of reductions which came out of an allied process – the ozone depleting substance process, the Montreal Protocol.
We were one of two of 197 countries elected unanimously to co-chair that process – a huge global down payment.
It says that our standing is significant and high, and it says that we are actually doing real and I think deeply important things.
Thank you so much for your time, I'd love to check in with you while you're still in Paris again, thank you.
Yeah, sure, I'd be delighted. Thank you.