Topics: Paris Climate Change Agreement
Look, I'm really delighted that Australia's been able to not only just sign on to the Paris Agreement,
but we have committed to the process of beginning ratification immediately and to seek to ratify
and complete that process this year.
That puts Australia really right in the forefront of nations taking action.
And if Paris was about commitment then New York is about action.
We've been able to talk with many other countries whilst we've been here, including with the United
States and the UK, with India and Indonesia, with Switzerland and Norway amongst so many
And the real goal from here is to mobilise private sector finance, to make sure that the public sector
funds and the Green Climate Fund are released for practical projects.
And we've in particular help drive two international initiatives – a Blue Carbon or mangrove
international partnership – and there's been immense interest in this Australian initiative – we're
partnering with the UAE as well as with the IUCN which is one of the international environment
And secondly the forests agreement – so a global forests agreement. Lots of interest, and Australia's
really set out important things here.
After today, how confident are you that ratification may actually happen this year?
Look I am extremely hopeful. At this point in time there are pledges from about 48 per cent of the
55 per cent of emissions that need to be covered. So we're very close.
We're working with the United States and with China on just helping those other countries across
the line, which will bring this agreement into force.
Will the Paris agreement come into force? Absolutely. Will it come into force in 2016? I believe it
Given that it's a name and shame system rather than an actual penalty system for countries who
don't adhere to what they've agreed to, why would they? Why would they actually make the effort
to do that?
Well this is a very interesting example of good international citizenship being a standing and a
currency in its own right.
The fact that there were over 170 nations here today that signed – easily the best outcome on the
first day on any treaty in the history of the world – says this treaty matters and that the collective
process really matters.
So there's a positive incentive for countries in terms of reputation to be part of it.
And of the 15 countries who have already ratified, many of those are Pacific nations, what does that
say, about firstly Australia's region, but also about Australia's responsibility to support those nations
as well as meeting out own targets?
Well, we're a Pacific nation, and we proudly have responsibilities as a good neighbour so we're
delighted that Pacific states are taking a lead.
We have been one of the states taking the lead in negotiations.
We were called upon very early to make the statement to the plenary session on early ratification,
and Australia was the third nation called upon to make the statement.
And hopefully we're able to contribute to an early entry into force of the Paris agreement, perhaps a
number of years earlier than anybody had ever hoped only four months ago.
You've also said that Australia will ratify the second tranche of the Kyoto Protocol and with that is
meeting emissions targets better than expected. How significant is that?
The news that we're not just going to ratify Kyoto II, but that we're going to meet and beat our
targets by 78 million tonnes has been received extremely well.
Every country we've spoken to has said that that's an exceptionally important sign of commitment,
as well as a deep reduction in emissions.
Beating our targets by 78 million tonnes has defied all of the expectations and all of the critics.
But most importantly it says, our systems are working and our contribution internationally is real
The Great Barrier Reef has had substantial attention in the US press and you had a phone call hook
up, as I understand it, with your Queensland counterparts before you left Australia.
Did that yield anything? And what have you announced today in relation to funding for the Reef?
So we've announced $11 million of additional funding for direct practical programs to reduce
sediment, nitrogen and pesticide run-off in the reef.
Why does it matter? A, it's better water quality, but B, it helps protect the coral.
If the coral has a healthier water environment, it's more able to recover and it's more able to resist
from warmer temperatures.
So it's a really practical outcome.
The discussion with the States was very clear that we wanted to take a lead and say this issue is real
I raised it today before the nations of the world in the speech on behalf of Australia.
Now, the World Heritage Committee said only a few months ago – they made the point, Australia is
a global role model for our work on the Barrier Reef.
But we want to keep doing more. And we want to work with Queensland but encourage them to
match what we have done.
We will have more in this space of water quality in the coming days and weeks.
Is there a political disconnect going on there? Is it reasonable that a global icon becomes a political
football between the State and Federal Government while it's clearly deteriorating?
Well I don't think it should be.
And we were surprised at the actions of Queensland to try to politicise it.
But we'll just get on with the job. We'd encourage them to do practical things that will actually
improve water quality.
And our message to everybody is it's about the water quality, and don't politicise it, focus on
reducing sediment, reducing nitrogen, killing off crown-of-thorns.
These are the things that can actually help protect the Reef, and talking doesn't but working does.
Just finally, looking forward to Morocco. These are all stepping stones, but what further is in
development that might be advancing the cause as of that meeting at the end of the year?
So for Morocco we want to see a genuine global rain forest agreement and a genuine global
mangrove protection agreement.
Why do they matter? Because we're protecting the forests and protecting the mangroves. Both
absorb carbon but both are fundamental habitats for the great land and marine species.