Senate debates

Wednesday, 25 August 2021

Questions without Notice: Take Note of Answers

Climate Change

4:41 pm

Photo of Larissa WatersLarissa Waters (Queensland, Australian Greens) Share this | Hansard source

[by video link] I rise to take note of the response given by the to my question of her today about Australia being an international climate pariah and when are we going to stop hanging out with petro states like Russia and Saudi Arabia rather than looking to the actions of the US, the UK, the EU, South Korea, Japan, all of the other nations that have said that they will increase their 2030 targets? I put to the foreign minister: what are we going to do about the criticism that Australia has recently received from the US ambassador—a country on whose coat-tails we generally seem to sit without question, not so much in this matter? I put to her that Australia needs to have a more aggressive pathway and a more ambitious effort on climate. I'm afraid I didn't get a very satisfactory answer. I got the bizarre statement that the government believe in achievements, not targets, which is somewhat bemusing.

I made the point that it's very easy to meet very weak targets. I'm afraid meeting our Kyoto target, which was a plus eight, an increase in our carbon emissions, is really nothing to crow about. And attempting to meet really, really low 2030 targets that are one-third of where they should be if we are to have any chance of meeting 1½ degrees is nothing to write home about. Unfortunately, the minister then took the opportunity to crow about how the government is funding—I am getting interruption on the audio here. I suggest, after Senator Abetz's action on my speech yesterday, that people on remote go on mute when they're not talking, thanks very much.

The foreign minister referenced the fact that the government is supporting so-called clean technology to the tune of $630 million but what she didn't mention was the $11 billion in subsidies to the fossil fuel sector that the most recent budget dished out, which somewhat makes $630 million pale in comparison with the handout to the fossil fuel donors that run this government. We've just seen a disallowance motion fail where we could have stopped yet more public money going to fossil fuel companies that happen to be Liberal Party donors and, again, the chamber squibbed it.

The foreign minister then quibbled with my assertion about the need for Australia's climate targets to be increased, which, again, is somewhat bemusing because the IPCC report released not two weeks ago clearly pointed out that the trajectory that Australia is on is not adequate and, by sheer mathematics, we need to at least double this government's pathetic 2030 targets to stay within a two-degree window and we need to triple them to have any chance of staying within a 1½-degree window. The difference between those two numbers is whether we have any of the Great Barrier Reef left at all and whether we are going to continue to have an agricultural sector and a tourism sector. These are not just numbers on a page. These have incredibly serious real-world consequences. But I'm afraid that, other than engaging with the science as this government should be doing, the minister simply dismissed it with that classic phrase: 'I don't accept the premise of the question.' I'm afraid that the Australian public doesn't accept the premise of your government anymore, and they want climate action.

In the final question, I again referenced the international remarks that have been increasing in severity against Australia, pointing out how weak our climate targets are. The minister then resorted to the feeble remark that the Prime Minister wants to reach net zero by 2050 'preferably', which is a sop to Mr Barnaby Joyce, who doesn't accept any of the climate science at all. The IPCC report says that 2050 is simply far too late. The critical decade is now. If we muck about with 2050, we're all stuffed. We have the chance to reduce our emissions now, and that's what's needed. The reason that the nation is not doing so is the vast dollars that flow into the re-election coffers of the Liberal Party, the National Party and the Labor Party. The mining companies are running this parliament. This government should just give up the pretense of being in charge—(Time expired)

Question agreed to.


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