Thursday, 4 July 2019
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Leader of the Government, representing the Prime Minister. Minister, 717 jurisdictions across 16 countries have made a declaration that we are living in a climate emergency. The UK parliament, led by a Conservative government, supported the declaration of a climate emergency and showed global leadership. How does your government justify having such pathetic pollution reduction targets—only 16 per cent when you take into account carryover credits? How do you justify having targets that are completely inconsistent with keeping warming below 1.5 degrees, as set out in the Paris Agreement?
I can't answer this question without noting again and thanking the Greens again for having joined with Liberal and National party senators in voting down the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme that Senator Wong sought to introduce. Those of us on this side of the chamber continue to be grateful for your efforts to help us properly balance environmental protection with economic responsibility. That is, of course, the way we approach these things. We are committed to effective action on climate change. When we came into government, we were running behind in terms of meeting our emissions reduction target signed onto in Kyoto. We're now running ahead of meeting that commitment. And we have a plan to meet our emissions reduction targets agreed to in Paris, but we will not take reckless and irresponsible decisions that would harm Australian families for no environmental benefit. Sending economic activity and jobs overseas for the same level of economic output but with higher emissions does not help reduce global greenhouse gas emissions. That would be just gratuitously imposing a sacrifice on Australians to make ourselves feel better when we're actually hurting them for no purpose whatsoever.
The UK has driven down pollution by 38 per cent since 1990 and ours has increased by 24 per cent over the same period. Here we are, a country of 25 million, contributing more to the breakdown of our climate than the UK, with a population of 66 million. Minister, when you're looking at the source of increasing emissions—and let's take the gas sector, in particular—what are your plans to reduce pollution from the gas sector?
Do you know what? Australia actually helps to reduce emissions in the world by exporting clean energy—by exporting cleaner coal, by exporting gas and by displacing much more environmentally unfriendly energy sources in other parts of the world. We are a growing population and a growing economy with lots of capacity to help the world reduce greenhouse gas emissions in a way that's actually good for our economy. We are being a good global citizen by contributing our gas, our cleaner coal and all of these energy sources that will help reduce emissions all around the world, at the same time as generating jobs here in Australia. How fantastic is that! The Greens should remember former senator Bob Brown, who of course was a big advocate of coal. If you are interested, I'm sure that Senator Colbeck would be happy to bring out that front page of the Hobart Mercury to remind you again.
Minister, in the short months between the last parliament and this one, 18 heat records have been broken in Canada; the worst drought in India's history is threatening entire cities; and in Mozambique months of rain fell in a few short hours, dislocating 1.8 million people. The World Meteorological Organization said it was a 'wake-up call to the world'. Minister, when will your government wake up to the climate emergency that is before us?
Our government is committed to effective action on climate change. We have very comprehensive and effective measures in place to ensure we meet our emissions reduction targets, signed onto in Paris. We will not impose economic harm on Australia in order to push up emissions in other parts of the world. We're not going to harm the Australian economy in order to actually increase emissions all around the world. You can go to the next election again proposing to harm the Australian economy in a way that doesn't make any difference to the environment. That is a matter for you. On our side of parliament, unashamedly and unequivocally, we will never ever do that.