Senate debates

Wednesday, 7 February 2007

Questions without Notice: Take Note of Answers

Climate Change

3:19 pm

Photo of Cory BernardiCory Bernardi (SA, Liberal Party) Share this | Hansard source

It is amazing to listen to the confected outrage of people on the other side of the chamber saying that climate change is worth destroying Australian industry for and that we need to take measures that are going to dislocate industry across this nation and effectively cause economic paralysis. I am a climate change realist. Like the Prime Minister, I acknowledge that our climate is changing. It has been changing for centuries. We have had warmer periods and we have had cooler periods. We are currently in a warmer period. There is no doubt that the scientific evidence does demonstrate that greenhouse gases are making a contribution to this. We as a government acknowledge this, which is why we established in 1997 the Australian Greenhouse Office, the first agency dedicated to addressing climate change.

Whilst we have not signed the Kyoto protocol, we have not done so just so that we can ignore it like other countries have done—which is apparently what you lot opposite want. We have sought to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, and we are expecting that reduction to be within one per cent of our stated Kyoto protocol target in any event. By 2010 we will have reduced our emissions by some 87 million tonnes, which is equivalent to the emissions from our entire transport sector; that is our goal. This is a reasonable response to an issue that the world is confronting: a world where we have to compete at an economic level and a nation where we need to provide jobs and a growing economy for Australian workers.

The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report has generally been accepted as a definitive statement on climate change and on the severe impacts it may have on the global economic environment and humans’ living conditions. But one thing that has gone quite underreported about that report is that, whilst it acknowledges man’s contribution to global warming, greenhouse gases and climate change, it also says that some of the more alarmist theories that have been peddled in an attempt to score cheap political points are simply not true. Antarctica is not warming, I read in this morning’s paper. It is not melting away and going to drown us all under metres of water. No, the Gulf Stream will not stop. Europe will not fall into a new ice age as a result of climate change. No, climate change is not responsible for more hurricanes—or cyclones, as we call them here in Australia. The IPCC report also suggests that Sydney will not be under water in just a couple of decades time, which is what some of the more alarmist people are peddling.

This government has been committed for 10 years, since we established the Greenhouse Office, to examining renewable technologies—investing in energy options that can produce a viable, profound change in Australian emissions for the future. As I said earlier, the latest projections of Australian emissions say that we are within one per cent of our Kyoto protocol target. To achieve this, the government have done many different things. We have established the largest renewable energy project in solar panels, in the seat of Makin in Adelaide, which Senator Wortley would be well aware of. We have done this to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and to reduce emissions.

Imagine for a moment if we did what the Labor Party and some of the more extreme fringe parties would advocate and we actually shut down our coal industry. How many thousands of jobs would be lost as a result of that? How many jobs are you prepared to give up, Senator Wortley? How many coal stations are you prepared to close in order to achieve a further reduction, even though we are within one per cent of what our Kyoto protocol limit would be? The fact is that we are looking at something that is sustainable for this country. We have to do what is in the best interests of not only the workers but our environment in this country. This government is working very hard towards that strategy. We are working with key allies in our region and with our competitors. (Time expired)


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