Monday, 7 December 2020
Matters of Urgency
Well, Senator Waters, start acting like one. Don't just adopt the policies of another country. A proud republican would actually want to cherish our independence and chart our course through the world.
I want to come to the other countries as well. Senator Waters only mentioned the United Kingdom, but when you look around the world you see that New Zealand, our cousins and good friends, are not meeting their Kyoto targets. The Kyoto targets come due this year, 2020, so New Zealand has about three weeks to meet its Kyoto targets that it is failing to meet right now. It has only reduced emissions by just under three per cent when it promised to reduce them by five per cent. As much as Jacinda Ardern wants to go around the world spruiking that she is committed to net zero emissions by 2050, the fact remains that her country has not met the commitments it made just 10 or 15 years ago, so how can it be trusted to do something in 30 years time?
Likewise, Canada has barely changed its emissions. It is not meeting its Kyoto targets. Japan is not meeting its Kyoto targets. Almost every other country in the world is not meeting its targets. Then of course countries like China and India don't even have any real targets to meet under Kyoto, or Paris for that matter. But we are. Senator Waters thinks it's through dodgy accounting, which I'll come to. We are one of the few countries that are actually meeting their targets.
The other main problem I have with the implication in this motion that we should follow the United Kingdom and reduce our emissions in the order of 68 per cent by 2030 is that that will actually do nothing for the environment unless we consume less stuff. I didn't hear from the Greens—and we never hear this from the Greens—that we should not buy as many solar panels, wind turbines and electric cars from overseas. All of these things are made using coal and often in countries with much worse environmental records than we have.
Every time we put up a wind turbine it takes about 900 tonnes of steel. It takes around 800 tonnes of coking coal to make one tonne of steel. If you times 800 by 900, you see that there is a lot of coking coal embodied in those turbines. Every time you build a wind turbine there are 2,500 tonnes of concrete. Making concrete typically uses a lot of coal too in heating the lime in the kilns. That also has a huge carbon emissions impact. Again, we don't hear from the Greens in this chamber about the need for fewer wind turbines. Of course Bob Brown and Christine Milne are doing great work opposing wind turbines in Tasmania, and all power to them. This mob in here are cheering on the extra carbon emissions we would get from wind turbines.
Almost all of our solar panels are imported from China. Where does China get the energy to power its factories to produce these cheap solar panels? Coal—and a lot of it used to be our coal. They use coal to produce cheap solar panels that we then happily import. I say to the renewable energy industry, 'If we really want to save the planet, let's make the solar panels here.' I'd support that. I'm not against solar panels and renewable energy, but let's make them here rather than make them in dirty factories in China. Why don't we make the solar panels here? Why do we allow these companies to take government subsidies all the time and then import solar panels from other countries where the jobs are created? Let's make them here in this country in at least a cleaner fashion.
Of course, if we were to reduce our emissions by 60 or 70 per cent, even if we were to reduce them by 100 per cent—if we were to get rid of our carbon emissions tomorrow—in the words of Dr Alan Finkel, that would do 'virtually nothing' for the environment, because Australia only accounts for roughly 1.3 per cent of the world's emissions. So, even if Australia were to get rid of all of its carbon emissions tomorrow, it would not make a single difference to the world; it would not change the temperature. That was confirmed by our Chief Scientist, Dr Alan Finkel, when a good mate of mine, former Senator Ian Macdonald, asked Dr Alan Finkel at Senate estimates what the impact would be of reducing the world's emissions by 1.3 per cent. Dr Alan Finkel replied, 'Virtually nothing.' And he's absolutely right; it would do virtually nothing for the planet. But apparently we want to push on and continue down this path where we self-flagellate for no actual environmental outcome; we cost jobs in this country but don't help the environment at all. The latest absurdity here is this push to give up our Kyoto credits and give up the fact that we've overachieved on carbon emissions. We have to do that, yet there is never a call from the Greens to penalise those countries who have underachieved. Why is all the criticism of our country? Why isn't there any criticism of other countries? It's because the Greens don't really like Australia. They don't like our country; they don't stand up for it, and they certainly don't want to put Australia first. There's never any criticism of other countries for not meeting their Kyoto commitments.