Topics: IPCC report, Emissions Reduction Fund
To help us answer that question we’re speaking with Environment Minister Greg Hunt.
Minister, according to this report coal doesn’t have much of a place in the future, so what does that mean for Australia? Are we in trouble?
Look, as a Dad I’m deeply committed to the idea of reducing emissions for Australia, and we do it on a variety of fronts.
We’ve just invested $2.5 billion in cleaning up coal-fired power stations, in cleaning up our cities, ensuring that our farms are capturing carbon in trees and in soil. So there’s a whole variety of things that we can do as a country, and we’re investing in cleaning up power stations, potentially under the $2.5 billion that we have.
Strangely enough, the other guys put $5.5 billion into supporting brown-coal power stations. It was an odd thing to do. Our approach is to clean up, theirs was to give them $5.5 billion.
But the PM just opened, arguably, the biggest mine saying coal is good for humanity. So what does that say?
Look it says that humanity has two great challenges. On the one hand we still have to pull hundreds and hundreds of millions of people out of poverty and electricity is an essential part of that.
And on the other hand we want to clean up our environment. So it’s about cleaning up our sources of electricity, cleaning up coal-fired power, encouraging and supporting renewables, and encouraging and supporting energy efficiency.
They’re the really practical things, as a country, which we’re proposing and about which, I’ve got to say, I’m passionate.
If we put aside the environmental issues, put aside the fact that it does generate a lot of jobs as well though, the fact that the prices have halved is of great concern.
Well look, obviously the global markets set the price, and they react to differing things. For us as a country, what really matters is that we clean up our sources of electricity. I was talking just today with people about work that the CSIRO is doing to clean up and potentially reduce by 30 and 50 per cent the emissions from coal-fired power.
And if we can do that, then in turn that’s technology we can take to the rest of the world. It reduces the world’s emissions. It’s good for Australia and it’s Australia playing a leadership role.
Greg, the report is also calling for 80 per cent of the world’s energy to come from renewables by the year 2050. Yet our Government is proposing that – well they’re going to slash the renewable energy target. How is that doing our part?
Well, with respect, that’s one of the myths that’s been put about by some on the other side. We’re about to take the amount of renewable energy we have, and over the period between now and 2020 in terms of the large-scale renewables that many people would see, that’s likely to increase by between 60 to 70 per cent, compared with where we are currently.
Solar on rooftops and in communities is likely to increase by somewhere between 70 and 100 per cent. So very significant growth.
Minister if other countries do start turning their backs on coal, is there a plan in place for Australia to do the same?
Well, what we’re doing is right now investing, as I say, $2.5 billion in cleaning up coal-fired power stations, in cleaning up our emissions, in improving the air quality in our cities, in reducing problems in relation to farm runoff and other issues, so taking very practical steps.
That positions us for the future both in terms of using the natural resources and in terms of using greater renewable energy. It’s a really significant thing that – you know, I know for myself I’ve worked since 2006 on to get this investment, to invest in the environment. That’s a really good thing and I was disappointed that some on the other side said no, we don’t want to have this investment in cleaning up our environment. But it’s a really good step that we’re taking for the country.
Minister you mentioned you’re a Dad, your house is on fire, which child do you save?
I think they’re all watching this evening so I will say hello to my nine-year-old girl and my five-year-old boy.
Too late, the house is burning down!
I love you equally.
All that’s left is coal, so good luck with that. Thank you Minister, we appreciate the time.
Thanks very much.