House debates

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Questions without Notice

Climate Change

3:19 pm

Photo of Ed HusicEd Husic (Chifley, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Minister for Foreign Affairs. Will the minister advise the House what the government is doing to assist developing countries to tackle climate change and what key emerging economies are doing to reduce their emissions?

Photo of Kevin RuddKevin Rudd (Griffith, Australian Labor Party, Minister for Foreign Affairs) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank the honourable member for his question. For many of the most vulnerable countries around the world, climate change represents an existential threat—

Opposition Members:

Opposition members interjecting

Photo of Kevin RuddKevin Rudd (Griffith, Australian Labor Party, Minister for Foreign Affairs) Share this | | Hansard source

countries like Kiribati, countries like Tuvalu and countries like the Maldives. I find it remarkable that members would find this a matter of humour in this place. If you were to speak with the presidents of Tuvalu, Kiribati and the Maldives, they would have a different reaction. Furthermore, for many of the poorest countries in the world, climate change represents a fundamental challenge to economic development in terms of coastal inundation, water scarcity and the forced migration of populations. Again, those opposite, including the honourable member who interjects most volubly with his laughter: the President of Bangladesh has said to us in recent meetings that 40 million of her country’s population lie potentially vulnerable to the inundation of the southern part of Bangladesh should climate change continue unabated. Those opposite may find this to be amusing. We on this side of the House find it not to be amusing but instead to be the basis of intelligent international public policy.

When the countries of the world gathered at Copenhagen, they decided through a Copenhagen accord on four courses of action. One was an agreement for the first time that temperature increases across the world should be kept within two degrees Centigrade. Secondly, they agreed that, when it comes to the burden to be shouldered to keep temperature increases within that range, it should be undertaken by both developed and developing countries, for the first time. Thirdly, there should be a global system of measurement, reporting and verification so that states which commit to courses of action are held accountable for their commitments. And, fourthly, for the most vulnerable states, the countries of the world agreed on a $30 billion allocation by the year 2012 to assist them with the immediate tasks of adaptation.

Since then, for the information of the House, 140 states around the world have now acceded to the Copenhagen accord. Australia is playing its part in this respect. We have allocated some $599 million out to the year 2012 to assist in a number of specific areas. Twenty-five per cent of that funding is to go to those countries which are small island states and most vulnerable states, and I have listed some of them already, and 25 per cent will go to those who are dealing with the problems of avoided rainforest degradation. These are practical courses of action which assist with adaptation and mitigation for climate change purposes. For example, in the island republic of Tuvalu we have used this allocation of funds to assist with the provision of some 576 additional water tanks to provide for water storage on that highly exposed island in the Pacific. We are allocating $70 million to work with Indonesia on avoided degradation of rainforest across an area of some 120,000 hectares of the Indonesian republic.

We see actions undertaken by developed and developing countries around the world. In China we see actions to reduce energy intensity. In India we see actions to reduce energy intensity. In New Zealand a decision has agreed on a reduction in carbon by introducing a price on carbon through an emissions trading scheme. These are the actions of responsible governments around the world, developed and developing, and Australia is also rising to the global challenge. (Time expired)

3:24 pm

Photo of Christopher PyneChristopher Pyne (Sturt, Liberal Party, Shadow Minister for Education, Apprenticeships and Training) Share this | | Hansard source

Mr Speaker, the opposition feels that the Foreign Minister has more to say and I therefore move:

That the member’s time be extended by two minutes.

Question agreed to.

3:25 pm

Photo of Kevin RuddKevin Rudd (Griffith, Australian Labor Party, Minister for Foreign Affairs) Share this | | Hansard source

Mr Speaker, I am most grateful to the Manager of Opposition Business and I make one single point. Around the world this is taken seriously. By those opposite it is regarded as a joke.