Wednesday, 22 August 2018
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister representing the Prime Minister, Senator Cormann. TheNew York Times noted this morning that Australia's energy politics seems forever doomed to devolve into a circus, which is highlighted by your leadership chaos, which has been driven by our climate and energy policy. ABC Radio this morning interviewed Niklas Hohne, part of an independent scientific group that studies how countries are tracking in meeting their Paris goals. He noted that Australia will miss our target by a wide margin and will have to implement significantly more policies to meet our 2030 target. He contrasted us with countries that are responsible for two-thirds of the world's emissions that have legislated their targets and are on track to meet them. Minister, for the clarity of all Australians and of the globe, does the government remain committed to Australia meeting its targets as agreed to in the Paris agreement of a 26 to 28 per cent cut in emissions from 2005 levels?
Yes, we are, and we also are on track to meet that target. You've got to remember that not only did we meet but we exceeded the Kyoto emissions reduction target. Other countries, countries who take a much more activist position in relation to these things, did not meet their emissions reduction commitments. Australia not only met but exceeded our Kyoto emissions reduction target. We, of course, remain committed to the commitments that we made in Paris and we believe that we can meet and exceed those targets in the same way as we have in the past.
With all due respect, we are missing it by a wide target. We've abandoned legislating the 26 per cent cut in pollution from electricity. Meanwhile, the sector with the second-largest and fastest growing emissions is transport. Under current policies, transport emissions are forecast to increase by a further 15 per cent by 2030. This was given in evidence to our Senate select committee inquiry into electric vehicles last week by the Department of the Environment and Energy. What are the government's plans to reduce— (Time expired)
Honourable senators interjecting—
As I have flagged privately, the standing orders contain strict limits around statements leading into questions. It has been raised a number of times in the chamber. It would not be appropriate for speeches to be made preceding a question. Senator Rice, you ran out of time there. I'll ask the minister to answer any element of what you raised, if he wishes to, but there was no question there.
So there is no plan for reducing pollution from electricity, no plan for reducing pollution from transport. How can Australians have any confidence that this government has any commitment at all to reducing drought, reducing bushfires, preventing sea-level rise, saving the reef, protecting our precious threatened animals and saving Australian lives by playing our part under the Paris agreement to prevent climate change?
The Australian people can have confidence that our government will do the right thing by the environment in a way that is economically responsible. We will make judgements at all times to do everything we can to do the right thing by the environment in a way that is economically responsible and that doesn't hurt working families across Australia. You can go to the next election promising to ramp up emissions reduction targets, promising to ramp up renewable energy targets and promising to ramp up the cost of electricity, making it harder for families and pensioners to afford their electricity bills. We'll go to the election with our plan, which is all about doing the right thing by the environment in a way that is economically responsible.