Topics: Paris climate agreement, Ian Macfarlane
I want to get some reaction now from the Environment Minister, Greg Hunt. He joins me, well a long way away from Queensland, in his electorate in Victoria.
Greg Hunt, do you agree with the sentiments there from Ewen Jones?
Well look I actually think you summed it up perfectly when you said I'm a long way away from Queensland.
I think this is a matter for the Queensland division of the LNP.
I respect their decision, and I think that the rest of the party more broadly should respect their decision.
And Ian Macfarlane's had a long and very successful career, and so we should also acknowledge and appreciate his work over the years.
But given the events of the last couple of weeks, do you think he even deserves a spot on the Liberal backbench now?
Should he bow out of politics altogether?
He's been pre-selected by the party.
And my approach on both of these issues – his pre-selection was a matter for his division and the Queensland LNP, and the question of which party room he sits in is a matter for the Queensland LNP.
And he's entitled to make decisions about his own future in his own time, as I understand he indicated he'd do earlier today.
It is a win for common sense. And just a final question on this, because we did get you on the show to talk about the Paris climate change conference, but a win for common sense and really…
Yes, yes you did.
…the Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, has dodged a bullet here hasn't he?
Look, I think that you need to understand that – everybody needs to understand – Malcolm Turnbull has established a very firm base within not just the party room but the joint Coalition party room.
The public has responded extremely well, we've had a tremendous innovation statement, business confidence is travelling very well, and the support in both the Liberal party room and the joint party room is very, very high.
Okay. To Paris now, Mr Hunt.
One of the biggest achievements Australia really got through at this conference was for the five year reviews.
But isn't it somewhat ironic that Australia has pushed for, achieved, these five yearly reviews but at the same time you're saying you won't increase the 2030 target, you're certainly leaving the door closed on that.
Look I think we need to be very clear here.
Australia did push for five yearly reviews so as the world could achieve a two degree and below outcome.
We also pushed for a reference to the 1.5 degree aspiration on top of the below two degree target.
We are signing on to this international agreement. We have been one of the drivers of it.
And we drove the Montreal Protocol outcome and were critical to that, which helps the world with 90 billion tonnes, only a few weeks ago.
We helped drive the 2020 Kyoto agreement only a week ago. And then we contributed significantly to this agreement.
We're part of it, we're engaged in it. That means that in 2020 we will be part of the process, along with other countries, of reviewing our targets.
I won't predict what the outcome will be, but the world has agreed that we have a 2.7 degree outcome on the basis of the current pledges, and that we need to keep moving until we get to the two degrees.
We're well set up as a country. We're meeting and beating our 2020 targets, we're on track to meet and beat our 2030 targets, and we've built in a safety valve to allow us to reconsider as we approach 2020 and to be part of any new analysis.
So we're one of the people, one of the countries, one of the governments that's actually achieving and beating our targets.
And we always prepared for this moment of being in a position to reconsider in 2020, and 2025, and 2030, further ambition.
Okay. Just to be crystal clear – there is a review in 2017, correct, but that's not a review of the targets just of the policies.
Then you're saying closer to 2020 the Australian Government would consider a review of the targets as part of this Paris process?
So there are two stages here. Firstly, you're absolutely right, in 2017 we'll review our domestic targets – our domestic policies – and we will also review the potential for international units or international credits to be included in the scheme.
That was built in on the expectation that there would then be a second stage of a 2020 requirement that nations reconsider their targets.
Of course we will be part of that process of assessing and reconsidering our progress, and we will be – just as we have been – very constructive.
For now we've set a 2030 target, minus 26-28 per cent, one of the highest per capita reductions in the world.
In addition, in 2020, we will be part of – because we've signed on to the Paris agreement – we will be part of the reassessment that each and every country globally goes through.
And that's a very constructive outcome, it's a great outcome for the world.
Some in your party are still warning against going any further than you already are.
How much room is there in the existing policy platform and existing legislation to do more?
Well I think it's very important to understand that there are three pillars to what we're currently doing – the Renewable Energy Target, the Emissions Reduction Fund, and the safeguards mechanism which came into law during the Paris conference.
We're also setting up three new things, which have already been commenced – vehicle emissions standards, energy productivity standards, and a phase down of HFCs, which are a synthetic greenhouse gas which can save Australia over 80 million tonnes of emissions between now and 2030.
So they're three new things that are currently under development.
Add to that in 2017 the consideration of international units, and we've given ourselves the ability to meet and beat our 2030 targets, and we've given ourselves the flexibility that as we approach 2020 if more is required then we have a very stable platform.
And we'll do all of this without driving up electricity prices.
The alternative model – the ALP model – is to drive up household electricity prices. That's not our model.
I agree that the ETS has largely worked – or any ETS – has largely worked better in theory than it has in practice to date.
And I know that's something that you and Malcolm Turnbull have both said.
But would you rule out a form of ETS? Not an economy wide one – perhaps the same model that Canada is running in some of its provinces?
Because I know there was some conversation between Justin Trudeau and Malcolm Turnbull – perhaps you were involved in that Mr Hunt, whilst all these international forums were going on.
So would you rule out any kind of ETS, even if it was a state based one or even smaller scale?
Look, I do not see us moving to an ETS during the life of this Government.
We have a very successful model. Countries all around the world were asking about the Australian reverse auctions.
The IEA and the OECD both said publicly in a forum I was present at that reverse auctions had been very successful and indeed in many ways the most successful way of determining the price for emissions reduction.
And I was present for a brief part of the conversation between Malcolm Turnbull and Justin Trudeau and this wasn't one of the items that we discussed – just the focus on a good global agreement, and this is precisely what we've struck.
[Audio error] …a meeting that's given renewable energy sector a huge momentum shift. Now the Government will double investment in clean energy innovation…
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…sorry, have you got me there Mr Hunt?
…yes, I've got you now, sorry I lost the sound.
Okay, sorry, I'll repeat my question. That's okay.
Climate groups are hailing Paris as a momentum shifter – I think you got that part of my question.
The Government will double investment in innovation to $200 million.
Now does there need to be a bit of a rethink in the way subsidies are divvied out here? Is that something you're concentrating on?
Well, I think it's valuable to explain that the Renewable Energy Target, which is the equivalent of 23.5 per cent, will see a doubling of large scale renewable energy between now and 2020.
That's about 6,000 megawatts of installed capacity. That's somewhere in the vicinity of $12 billion of new renewables investment.
So the signals couldn't be stronger or clearer.
It's mandated by law that that amount of new renewable energy has to be generated.
There is a huge pipeline being developed. There were announcements only recently – I announced approval of the Mount Emerald wind farm in North Queensland, we've seen the Ararat proposal in Victoria.
I know that there are other proposals which I expect to be announced shortly.
So we are going through a renewable renaissance in Australia.
And we're already the number one country in the world in household solar – not by a little amount but double the next best country.
Okay, just one quick final question. The UK and Germany said they've cancelled Kyoto rollover credits, or will cancel them – why won't Australia do that?
Look, it's not an issue that had previously been raised with us. It's not something that we have proposed. I respect their decisions.
We produced and beat our targets in the first Kyoto period.
We're obviously looking at it as a 12 year process and we aim to meet and beat our targets in the second period.
And we may well beat our targets by a very considerable amount so we haven't judged what we'll do at that point because the rules between 2020 and the post-2020 period haven't been set.
The agreement's been struck – the rules are yet to be determined. But at this stage there are no plans to do what you've outlined.
Environment Minister, Greg Hunt, thanks so much for your time.
Thanks Laura. It was really a privilege to be part of the agreement and I think Australians should know and feel proud of the fact that Australia played a very significant role. And Julie Bishop in particular did a tremendous job.
Well, you were there the first week as well so thank you for that.