Thursday, 1 August 2019
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs. During the fifth Pacific Islands Development Forum Leaders' Summit this week, our Pacific neighbours have joined almost 900 jurisdictions to declare a climate emergency. Minister, do you acknowledge and, more importantly, understand the incredible worry, trauma and fear that our Pacific neighbours are experiencing as they directly watch the impacts of the climate crisis affecting their islands and their very survival?
Thank you, Senator Di Natale for that question. In short, the answer is, yes, we are acutely aware and engaged with our Pacific neighbours on the issue of climate change. That is the direct answer to your question. Can I also say, in relation to the issue that you refer to, which relates to the carryover emissions from Kyoto and the discussion around that, that Australia does have a strong record—
A point of order on relevance: I didn't actually ask about carryover credits in my question—although it is my next question, and it's good to see that you've been briefed appropriately and may in fact have some form of ESP that you can anticipate—
Part of the resolution at the forum was that:
… relevant parties to the Kyoto Protocol to refrain from using 'carryover credits' as an abatement for the … emissions reduction targets.
That's squarely aimed at Australia, as no other country's going to rely on these credits to keep polluting. Minister, for the importance of diplomatic relations and the sake of our Pacific neighbours, will you heed their united call for Australia not to use this dodgy accounting trick?
Thank you again, Senator Di Natale. Australia does have a very strong record meeting our emissions targets. We have overachieved on our first Kyoto target and are now on track to achieve on our second. The Kyoto protocol established the concept of carryover to encourage countries to overachieve. The Paris agreement does not refer to the use of carryover, and we will know closer to 2030 whether the overachievement will be needed at all.
I understand, to be fair, ministers are known to use briefs to answer questions. I might also make the observation that section 187 has been observed far more in breach than in its observance in my 10 years in the chamber. Even if people think it should be enforced, it hasn't been. But ministers use briefs in answering questions. I call the minister to continue.
Thank you very much, Mr President. I was directly relevant. It was asking about Kyoto and carryover, and I was absolutely directly relevant to the question. But Australia will use its overachievement against previous targets to the extent that it's necessary for us to do so. This overachievement reflects meaningful action by Australia to meet our successive targets and is underpinned by rigorous emissions monitoring and accountability systems. By rejecting Kyoto carryover targets before the election, Labor proposed to dramatically increase the cost of meeting its target. (Time expired)
In the lead-up to the UN's Climate Action Summit in September, the Secretary-General is going to be asking nations to bring far more-ambitious targets in recognition that current targets have us on track for 3.4 degrees of warming, fundamentally altering life on our planet. Minister, will you consider taking higher abatement targets to the UN in September?
Again, thank you for that question. As I have already said, Australia is meeting our targets, and we are doing so I think very well. But in relation to the Paris Agreement and also emissions reduction, Australia must and will continue to take urgent and effective action to address climate change. We will undertake this as part of a coordinated global effort. Our participation in the Paris Agreement is in the national interest—including our strategic interests, as you have raised, in the Pacific. Our regional and our international partners know that Australia can be trusted to keep our commitments. Australia is committed to our Paris target, reducing emissions by 26 to 28 per cent on 2005 levels by 2030. Our target is responsible, and it is achievable. Our 2030 target will see us reduce the emissions intensity of our economy by fully two-thirds, and our emissions per person will have halved by 2030—a record to be proud of. (Time expired)