Topics: Green Climate Fund
We’re going to go back to our top story now and joining me live from the Mornington Peninsula, the Environment Minister Greg Hunt. Mr Hunt, thanks so much for your time. I want to start by asking you about this story…
Good morning, Kieran.
…which is on the front page of the Fairfax papers today that the Trade Minister Andrew Robb says we’re willing to walk away from the 2015 climate deal if our major trade competitors aren’t going to pull their weight.
Is that the sort of language – is that the sort of message – that we should be taking into the climate talks? Shouldn’t we be a bit more constructive from the outset?
Well, we’ve just been incredibly constructive, providing funds for rainforest protection in the region. We’ve always wanted a good global agreement. I think we’ll get a good global agreement out of Paris but we don’t write a blank cheque and what Andrew has said is precisely what the Government has been saying throughout its period in office, that we want all of the major emitters, all of the major economies, all of our major competitors to be part of it.
Now, I believe they will be and so I think that what has been presented is long-standing, entirely conventional, and entirely sensible and my belief is that we’ll get a good global agreement out of Paris and that’ll be the right thing for the planet and the right thing for Australia.
Underpinning the foreign – the Trade Minister’s message, I guess, it is made more clear by the Foreign Minister’s message in Lima today. This is in The Australian newspaper. I’ll read just a little bit of it for our viewers, “I believe the notion of saying that China is a developing country has had its day in relation to climate change”, and that she’s going to push China and Indonesia to doing more, particularly those two countries and India, for that matter.
Are we losing a bit of the point here, though, to the extent that developing countries have traditionally been seen as different because us as developed nations have had the benefit of industrialisation, and the pollution which we’re currently having to deal with is part of our development, and we should cut them a bit of slack, essentially?
Well look, if you care about the planet, the planet doesn’t know the difference between the source of emissions. Whether it comes from China or India, Indonesia, Australia, or the United States, a tonne of CO2 has the same impact. So the real point here is what we want to do is to cap and reduce global emissions and to ensure that that’s done in a way which has the maximum benefit for the environment but the lowest impact on people’s cost of living, which is why we’ve made the changes in Australia.
We’ve got rid of a useless electricity tax and instead we’re focusing on directly cleaning things up. Around the world, each country can choose their own system but we want to make sure that whether it’s China or India or Indonesia, whether it’s the United States, Japan, Russia, Australia, we all play our part and we do it on a comparable basis. The largest source of growth – and indeed, not just the source of growth.
The largest source of emissions in the world is China. We welcome what they’ve recently committed to, but that will still mean that emissions in China can continue to increase up to 2030. So the more that each nation can do, the better.
We’re playing a very important role in bringing together an Asia-Pacific Rainforest Recovery Plan, protecting the forests in our region…
Yes. I want to get to that…
…doing the right thing by emissions, and I think we should be recognising a critical thing at a critical time where Australia is taking the lead.
Okay. I do want to get to that because it is a very important shift, I guess, after the Prime Minister said he wasn’t going to back the Green Climate Fund and then we have summed up $200 million. But I just want to clarify this point because I guess it comes down to the view that China will hold as well, because Obama and China, as you know, in the lead up to the G20 made a commitment.
The Chinese believe they are doing a lot, and I guess the point that they would raise is that they’ve still got hundreds of millions of people who live in poverty. Impoverished people that they haven’t lifted up out of poverty, and yet we’re expecting them to be judged by the same standards that we are.
Well, I would put it this way. Between 1990 and 2010, China’s emissions went from 3.4 billion tonnes up to 9.8 billion tonnes. So 6.4 billion tonnes of growth. That was 640 times any change in Australia over the same period. That is still likely to grow between now and 2030 on a very considerable basis, so we welcome the steps that they’ve taken but what we have to recognise is that this is the largest source of not just growth but of actual emissions.
If we are going to make a difference to the overall volume of CO2 in the world, everybody – particularly the biggest players – have to be a part. I am one who has long argued that we have to recognise that pulling people out of poverty is a fundamental human good. We are seeing that now but if we can work with countries, which is just what we’ve pledged to do yesterday, within our region to allow development but with a lower footprint, that’s surely a good combination.
It’s just on 7.30 Eastern Daylight Time. This is First Edition, and we have the Environment Minister Greg Hunt with us from Mornington Peninsula.
Mr Hunt, in terms of – well, I guess, the next step, we’ve signed up to this Green Climate Fund after the Prime Minister had previously said it was an international version of the ‘Bob Brown Bank’. You said you weren’t going to back it. So that’s quite a back flip. Now we have. Do you think that’s going to give Australia leverage?
Well, we’ve done it on our terms. Instead of a blank cheque, which is what Bill Shorten wanted, Julie Bishop and Andrew Robb have been able to negotiate an approach where we focus in our region on our long-standing priority of protecting the great rainforests of Borneo and Papua New Guinea, of working with countries such as the Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos Republic, and that’s good, sensible diplomacy.
It’s also protecting the use of Australian taxpayers’ funds and then focusing on protecting our regions. So this was an initiative that we announced in Opposition – an Asia-Pacific Rainforest Summit. It was an initiative that Julie Bishop announced in New York just a couple of months ago and which we held only a month ago with countries from around the region.
And indeed, the United States pledged at a very senior level that they would be part of it. I think there’s a long-standing plan here to protect our rainforests, to provide habitat for the iconic species such as the orang-utan, and reduce emissions. It’s a pretty good combination.
Mr Hunt, appreciate your time. Thank you.