House debates

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Questions without Notice

Climate Change

3:10 pm

Photo of Geoff LyonsGeoff Lyons (Bass, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency. How is the government helping to build consensus on the need to take action on climate change and introduce a carbon price?

Photo of Greg CombetGreg Combet (Charlton, Australian Labor Party, Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank the member for Bass for his question. At the last election the Prime Minister made it clear that the government was determined to build consensus to support an important economic reform—that is, to introduce a carbon price into our economy. To achieve that aim, the government has taken a number of steps. The first one has been to establish the multiparty climate change committee. That comprises representatives of the government, the Greens, and the members for Lyne and New England. That committee is advised by four independent experts, and I have referred in my earlier answer in question time to the role of Mr Rod Sims. At the last meeting the committee released a number of papers covering areas such as the science of climate change, the action being taken in a number of other countries around carbon pricing and information on energy markets and electricity prices.

I am sure the House will be interested to know that in Professor Will Steffen’s presentation to the committee, advising the committee on climate science, Professor Steffen reported that there is now 100 per cent certainty that the earth is warming and 95 per cent certainty that human-induced emissions are the main cause of the warming observed over the last century.

Photo of Dennis JensenDennis Jensen (Tangney, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Dr Jensen interjecting

Photo of Greg CombetGreg Combet (Charlton, Australian Labor Party, Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency) Share this | | Hansard source

I thought that statement may cause some mirth for the member for Tangney, who is currently auditioning to replace—

Photo of Harry JenkinsHarry Jenkins (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

The member for Tangney will stop interjecting. The minister should ignore him.

Photo of Greg CombetGreg Combet (Charlton, Australian Labor Party, Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency) Share this | | Hansard source

The second initiative relates to the work that will be carried out by Professor Ross Garnaut, to update his 2008 climate change review. Professor Garnaut’s update will be extremely important. It is due to be completed by the end of May next year and will, of course, be released publicly in progressive stages. Eight papers will be produced. The third initiative is what was announced yesterday—that is, a study by the Productivity Commission into the effective carbon prices that exist in the economies of our major trading partners. That will be another important contribution that is due to be finalised by May next year.

The fourth initiative is the setting up of two roundtables by the government to engage with members of the business community and members of various non-government organisations, including environmental groups and unions, about the issue of carbon pricing.

Finally, the other principal initiative that the government is currently working on and is well advanced in its preparations is the implementation of a new Climate Change Commission—another commitment that was made by the Prime Minister in the election campaign. The commission will play an extremely important role in engaging the public about the climate science, about the economics and about the importance and role of carbon pricing in driving reductions in carbon pollution.

All of these initiatives and the debate that they will inform, and the papers that are being produced, will help build consensus in the community and deepen the level of understanding about the important public policy challenge that climate change represents in this country. All that we hear in this context from the opposition, in this crucial public policy issue for our national long-term interest and for economic reform in this country, is negativity. They say: ‘Stop this, stop that. End this. Don’t do that.’ They wreck this, oppose this, run scare and fearmongering campaigns. They do not have one iota of an idea about a constructive contribution to one of the most important challenges we face in this country. (Time expired)