House debates

Monday, 22 February 2021


Climate Change

7:34 pm

Photo of Julian LeeserJulian Leeser (Berowra, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Today I rise to report on an issue members of my community raise with me. I know people want Australia to do more on climate change—it's a message I've taken back to Canberra—and tonight I want to report on some of the things our government are doing to address it. Because we believe climate change is real and serious, our government are committed to taking action to address climate change. Our approach has two limbs: mitigation through emissions reduction and practical action on climate resilience and adaptation. We remain committed to achieving our Paris emissions reduction target of 26 per cent by 2030, which will see our emissions per capita fall by half. Emissions are lower than when the coalition came to government and are currently at their lowest level since 1998. Australian emissions are now nearly 17 per cent below 2005 levels, while the OECD average is nine per cent below and New Zealand and Canada are around one per cent below. In 2020 Australia beat its emission reductions targets by 459 million tonnes. Our target is comparable to countries like Canada and Japan and higher than every major economy in Asia. We're focused on achieving our targets through practical, technology driven means. We're establishing bilateral agreements on energy and emissions reduction with each state and territory, and New South Wales and Tasmania have signed up already.

Australia has been described as a world leader in renewables. Our per capita investment in renewables is greater than the United States, Japan and the UK and three times that of Germany or France. More than 2.2 million Australians have rooftop solar panels, which is the highest uptake in the world. New solar and wind technologies are deployed in Australia at a rate which is 10 times faster than the global average. A record 6.3 gigawatts of renewable capacity was installed in 2019, which was a 24 per cent increase on the previous year. Electricity generated by renewables will expand a record 26 per cent in the coming year. Additionally, wind and solar generation in the National Electricity Market is projected to increase by 250 per cent between 2019 and 2022. This is the central reason why the latest official projections indicate that the National Energy Market will be 26 per cent below 2005 emissions levels by 2022, which is eight years ahead of its target.

Our government's Clean Energy Finance Corporation has invested $10 billion to drive down the cost of renewables, and we've developed investment in battery and pumped hydro energy storage through the $1 billion Grid Reliability Fund. We're investing $1.42 billion in supporting the expansion of the Snowy hydro scheme and the development of the technology needed to realise Tasmania's Battery of the Nation vision. This is in addition to our $500 million hydrogen strategy, which will position Australia as a key player in the emerging hydrogen market. We also recognise that accessing domestic gas supplies is an essential component in developing a credible energy transition plan for Australia. Gas will help us bridge the transition gap, while other investments can be scaled to an affordable and available level.

The government's technology investment road map will help guide government and private sector investment in renewable energy going forward so that renewable alternatives can be scaled to a level that makes them economically and environmentally viable. We've always said that the pathway for reducing Australia's emissions needs to be based on technology, not taxes. Climate resilience and adaptation is also an important component of our response. Climate resilience and adaptation must involve serious attention to hazard reduction, which has a direct impact on the safety of Australians living in bush environments, such as the Berowra electorate. Our government is pursuing greater national transparency and accountability around those measures. The $5 billion Future Drought Fund will play an essential role in supporting practical, resilience-building measures. These measures include small-scale water infrastructure, improved information on local climate variability, sustainable stock management, and soil and water generation.

The new Emergency Response Fund will be directing part of its annual $200 million funding towards preparedness for and recovery from future disaster events. The National Water Grid Authority will also provide national leadership on guiding investment in water security and generating a comprehensive, integrated plan to help drought-proof our water supply. The Reef 2050 plan is receiving $1.19 billion in Commonwealth funding to support the ongoing resilience of the Great Barrier Reef. We're also supporting our Pacific family in their climate resilience measures. The CSIRO and the Chief Scientist have been tasked with presenting recommendations on further practical resilience and mitigation measures going forward. This, in tandem with our waste and recycling policies, which will see an increase in waste reduction and an increase in recycling, shows that Australia is on the right track. We're taking action on climate change and protecting the environment for future generations.