Senate debates

Wednesday, 24 November 2021

Matters of Urgency

Climate Change

5:16 pm

Photo of David VanDavid Van (Victoria, Liberal Party) Share this | Hansard source

Again, I thank those in the corner for their matters of urgency motions—they're like dorothy dixers to us. They set up a debate which we're very, very happy to have. The Morrison government is the only party in this chamber with a whole-of-economy, long-term emissions reduction plan that will see us meet and beat our 2030 target and achieve net zero by 2050 without imposing new costs on households, small businesses, our traditional industries or the economy. Those opposite will tax their way there. We know that. They've done it before. They'll do it again. Those in the corner would just blow up the economy. Shutting down fossil fuels overnight would just kill the economy. The loss of jobs would be enormous, poverty would be rife—all the things that they pretend they argue for, we would see in Australia overnight.

The Prime Minister took to COP26 a plan to achieve net zero emissions by 2050 in the Australian way—that is, looking at where we have strategic advantage and where we can make the easiest and biggest gains with the least amount of money. And, by money, we're talking about incentives to partner with other levels of government and business. We will act in a practical, responsible way to reduce emissions, while preserving Australian jobs and taking advantage of new opportunities for industries and regional Australia. The government will not support the Greens' reckless and economy-destroying climate policies that would force industries to shut and projects to be delayed or cancelled and would destroy Australian jobs and industries. Labor, if elected at the next election—and there's a big 'if'—will have no choice but to bow to the Greens' bidding. We hear that from the Greens every day in this place—how they say they need to be the party with the balance of power in this parliament. And we've seen what that would cause.

Australia's economy is almost unique amongst developed countries, with an economy specialising in the production of energy and emissions-intensive commodities. That's why our proportion of non-export emissions is incredibly low. Ahead of and during COP26, Australia worked closely with our Pacific family to come up with ways to bring about lower emissions while building our regional partners' resilience and funding any needs that they have. We particularly welcome the outcomes on the international carbon markets and the standardised transparency framework, which was a major focus for Australia, because transparency is the key to accountability and to translating ambition into achievement. This goes to the heart of the Paris agreement, which relies on countries delivering on their commitments to achieve a global net zero outcome. Australia's emissions reporting and transparency is the gold standard, and we expect all major emitters to display similar levels of transparency. As I mentioned before, in our area of the world, through the $104 million Indo-Pacific Carbon Offsets Scheme, we're working with our regional partners to build on their emissions accounting and reporting capabilities. Strong transparency integrity standards are vital to ensuring carbon markets deliver real and verifiable emissions reductions.

Australia has doubled its climate finance commitment to $2 billion over the next five years. More than 70 per cent of our support is focused on climate resilience and adaption. At COP26, countries committed to scaling up cooperation to make low-emissions technologies the most cost-effective and reliable option available. The technologies that we need to reach net zero don't yet exist, but our energy technology road map maps a path to finding those technologies, bringing down the cost such that they are competitive and ensuring that we, Australia, and the rest of the world have the technologies available to us to significantly reduce emissions and decarbonise our economy.

Analysis by the IEA, the International Energy Agency, shows that half the global reductions required to achieve net zero will come from technologies that are not yet ready for commercial deployment. China, the world's largest emitter, has not yet put an end to building thermal coal generation and production. In fact, in the first half of 2021 the country announced that they would build 43 new coal-fired power plants, which will emit an estimated 150 million tonnes of carbon dioxide. At Glasgow, Prime Minister Modi of India announced that by 2030 India will reduce its total projected carbon emissions by one billion tonnes and meet half of its energy requirements with renewable fuels, and also pledged to reach net zero emissions by 2070.

Other developing countries do not have the luxury of well-off countries, such as in the EU, by buying cheap offset credits to reduce their emissions. They require solutions that are inexpensive, that provide reliable power and that materially reduce their emissions. That's why the Morrison government's technology investment road map is so important. This government's road map is a plan to accelerate new technologies like hydrogen, carbon capture and storage, batteries and healthy soils that will help reduce emissions here and around the world. So far we have committed to invest $20 billion in new energy technologies by 2030, to drive at least $80 billion of total public and private investment over the decade. This investment will support at least 160,000 new jobs.

This road map is clearly working. Over the last two years our position against our 2030 target has improved by 639 million tonnes. This is the equivalent of taking all of Australia's 14.7 million cars off the road for 15 years. So while those opposite are happy to stand up and make statements that make them feel good and look good on social media, this government is working on delivering actual results that not only reduce our emissions but also drive investment and economic growth. We are about taking action not making statements.

Thousands of jobs will be created by 2050 by the creation of an Australian hydrogen industry. This follows on, very nicely, from the work that has been done over recent decades on building an LNG industry. The amount of investment—some government; mostly private—that built that industry will go a long way. It has created markets that Australia will follow up and that we will transition to selling hydrogen into when those markets transition away from natural gas. Regional hydrogen hubs, that we are building in regional Australia, will help develop the industry and create jobs. Our priority is to produce clean hydrogen under $2 a kilo. Low-cost, clean hydrogen holds significant promise for the world's energy future, and Australia has what it takes to be that world leader in hydrogen, just like we did with LNG.

Our government's $1.2 billion hydrogen investment is set to increase, boosting economic activity and jobs in regional Australia. An additional $150 million for a further two locations under the Clean Hydrogen Industrial Hubs program will enable the rollout of hydrogen hubs across seven priority regional sites. Hubs will consolidate Australia's natural resource strengths to unlock cheap, clean energy and stimulate a potential surge in industrial activity. An Australian hydrogen industry could generate more than 8,000 jobs and deliver over $11 billion a year in GDP by 2050. The research that's going on will help lead the creation of those hydrogen hubs and industry, whereby we will then reach our goal of producing green hydrogen below $2 a kilo. Our aim is to accelerate this process so that clean hydrogen achieves parity with other energy fuel sources that give us firm power in the quickest possible way.

The Morrison government has a plan. We took that plan to the last election. We took it to Glasgow. We're meeting and beating that plan. We're meeting and beating our emissions targets and we will continue to do so.


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