Thursday, 8 September 2022
Climate Change Bill 2022, Climate Change (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2022; In Committee
by leave—I move Australian Greens amendments (1) to (3) on sheet 1616 together:
(1) Clause 10, page 5 (line 10), omit "43%", substitute "at least 75%".
(2) Clause 10, page 5 (line 16), omit "2050", substitute "2035 and working towards negative emissions thereafter".
(3) Clause 10, page 5 (line 20), omit "43%", substitute "75%".
These amendments would increase the targets for cutting pollution in this country to something resembling science. The bill that we have before us today was designed not by climate scientists but by political scientists, and the flimsy 43 per cent emissions reduction target that this bill will enshrine is not enough. It's not based on science, and it puts us nowhere near the 1½-degree aspiration of the Paris Agreement on climate. It puts us closer to two degrees, which we know is an incredibly risky scientific situation where we may see catastrophic effects that set off a chain reaction that is not stoppable. I don't know about anyone else in this chamber, but I can't actually bear the thought of that. We must do everything we can to stop that from happening.
So we are moving today to change the targets in this bill to a 75 per cent reduction by 2030, which is what the science says is necessary. People will have heard us say before that this isn't just the Greens' proposition. This is what international scientists are recommending is the necessary target for our nation to help us do our bit to globally keep warming limited to 1½ degrees.
We don't have support for this amendment—spoiler alert! The two big parties will both oppose this, because we know the influence of the fossil fuel sector on this building, and it continues while those political donations continue to flow into the coffers of both of the big political parties. I see the now opposition shaking their heads about how we keep mentioning this inconvenient fact, but one does wonder what is the basis for the climate policy of the other parties when it's not science and when they do take millions in donations from fossil fuel companies. It's pretty hard not to draw the conclusion of who's in charge of writing climate policy.
That is why we are moving today to increase the targets to 75 per cent by 2030 and to make sure that our net-zero target is brought forward to 2035. We can actually do this, and I have a lot of confidence and optimism in the ability of our nation and our workers to take this transition seriously and create the fantastic domestic manufacturing opportunities that 100 per cent renewables will provide. This could be a real boon for our economy, and I think most people understand that. They know that coal is on the way out. Even the coal workers themselves know. They know they're being lied to when the big parties claim that the coal industry will still be employing them in decades to come. They just want to know what happens next and they want a chance to say what happens next in their local region, and they deserve that say. You'll hear us continue to talk about a worker led transition and a transition authority. We look forward to progressing, through various different channels, because this country is ready to have, and capable of having, 100 per cent clean, renewable energy and a prosperous economy that will flow from that.
We can meet net zero by 2035, and we don't really have a choice, because look at what we're already facing with the natural disasters. I'm from South-East Queensland. We've just had terrible floods that we are still recovering from. Of course, that then went down to the Northern Rivers, exacerbating the homelessness crisis that was already there. We actually can't take the increasingly severe and regular natural disasters. It's too much for people to bear, so we've got to do everything we can to avoid that and have targets that reflect science and give us the best shot of not only managing and lessening those natural catastrophes them but actually embracing the future, the new green economy that will be good for workers, good for regional communities, good for our agricultural sector, good for our tourism sector and good for all of us. It is a jobs generator. There are no economic downsides except for the coal and gas companies, who are used to bringing in record profits, paying no tax, ripping off their workers and having fancy dinners with people in this building. They are the people that will miss out under a clean economy, and I'm okay with that.
So we're moving this amendment today because, if we stick with the 43 per cent, it just makes the task harder later. If we've got science based targets that we can work towards delivering now, that transition can be smoother and it can be managed. If this government kicks the can down the road then the task for the next parliament will be harder, and those cuts will need to be deeper and faster than in an approach that is based on science from the outset and allows us to plan that transition to 2030 and to 2035. The science won't forgive us if we kick the can down the road.
As I said, I don't expect we'll get support for this amendment today, because, sadly, the fossil fuel companies seem to have more influence than the scientists in this building. Maybe one day that that will change. Perhaps we'll see a government with the guts to say, 'We're going to ban donations from fossil fuel companies, because we're sick of them running our democracy.' Certainly the Greens have been saying that for 10-odd years, and we look forward to the day when that actually becomes law. But, until such time as that happens, we want to see this 43 per cent target increased in this term of parliament.
As many of my colleagues have said, the climate wars are not over when you are still ignoring science and when you are opening new coal and gas mines. As we know—and I'll be asking the minister some questions about this—there are 114 new coal and gas projects in the pipeline that this government has to decide whether it's going to approve or not.
And so that brings me to my first question to the minister, and it's about your modelling behind the 43 per cent target. Have you factored in the emissions from those 114 new coal and gas projects? To be specific, there are 69 new coalmines and 45 new gas projects proposed in the pipeline. Have you factored the emissions from those projects into your modelling to create your 43 per cent target?
I was very interested in this amendment, and I note the points that have been made by the Leader of the Australian Greens in the Senate in proposing this amendment, but I'm also interested in modelling. This is just in relation to the points that have been made about the idea that we would be replacing 43 per cent with 75 per cent—setting aside the fact that the coalition believes this is legislating something that doesn't need legislating. Given the commitment made by the new Australian government to the relevant international bodies about our emissions reductions target, as has been said by their own environment spokesperson, this is just a symbolic move. But I would be interested in what modelling the Australian Greens have done on the impact to household bills if this new threshold were brought in. What would it cost for any household? What would be the increase to the average quarterly power bill? What would be the cost to those who wish to fill their car up with diesel—their Toyota Hilux, for example? What cost would be applied to household budgets that are already under pressure? As we know, only yesterday we had the—what day is it? Thursday. Two days ago, we had the Reserve Bank of Australia hand down their decision on interest rates, which, of course, we're seeing passed on by the major banks. I think—or at least I'd hope—that all of us in this place have a high degree of concern about the impact this would have on household budgets. I think that's one of the most important things we need to have regard for here.
As I've said many times, there are two fragile things that we need to look after here. One is the environment, and we need to take practical, science based, commonsense steps in that regard to protect the environment. But also we need to protect the economy, because without a functioning economy—much as without a healthy, thriving environment—we can't live. We can't keep the houses warm, the lights on or the ovens cooking our dinners. So I just wonder. I ask this question, like Senator Whish-Wilson, as someone who comes from a state where energy generation is 100 per cent renewable for domestic consumption, something I'm very proud of, although we do use coal to create concrete, which is probably one of the only materials that it will be possible to use to replace timber when we phase out native forest logging in this country, as, unfortunately, it appears is going to happen.
But I would be interested—going back to my original question—in what impact the Australian Greens' proposal will have and what modelling that is based on. I'm assuming they've done modelling for this proposal. If there is no modelling, please tell us, because that just demonstrates that there is no regard for the impact for Australian households, and the budget's already under strain.
I wish to add to questions from the Greens and from Senator Duniam to the minister. This has been described, and I reinforce it, as the most important bill that's ever been introduced into this parliament in terms of its costs and its consequences to the people of Australia.
I want to quote some costings found by an independent economist, Dr Alan Moran. These cannot be sensibly refuted, Minister, because they came from the government's own figures, budgets and department reports, state and federal. The report, titled The hidden cost of climate policies and renewables, prepared in August 2020, states:
… the financial impact of climate policies and renewable subsidies …
this is not basic cost for electricity; this is additional costs for electricity due to the financial impact of climate policies and renewable subsidies—
… costs households at least $13 billion annually, or around $1300 per household …
When the median income is $51,000, the after-tax median income is about $46,000. How the hell can anyone on $46,000 a year take-home afford an extra $1,300? That's before the impact of this savage rise to 43 per cent that the government proposes. In addition, according to the report—this was when the Morrison government was in power—the extra climate policies and renewable subsidies account for 39 per cent of household electricity bills, not 6½ per cent as the government typically quotes. Thirty-nine per cent—almost 40 per cent of the cost of a household bill—is additional costs due to climate policies and renewable subsidies. The report finds that there's a net loss of jobs in the economy, with every solar and wind job created causing 2.2 jobs to be lost in the real, productive economy.
Is anyone interested in that? It's not the people in this House that will be affected; it's the large majority of Australians who will suffer. Also, the market distortion that, through subsidies to solar and wind, increases the wholesale price of electricity to $92.50 per megawatt hour, up from $45.40 per megawatt hour. It's going to be horrendous. This will cost Australians trillions of dollars. It's a highly regressive tax because it will be much more impactful on the vulnerable and the people on low income.
Yesterday, we saw Senator Wong, the Leader of the Government in the Senate, in proposing this bill, unable to define what net zero is. They do not know what their own policy is. We just wanted a simple interpretation from the Leader of the Government in the Senate as to what net zero means, and she could not provide it. I'll tell you why you can't: because you've never provided any logical scientific points which are simply empirical scientific evidence provided in a framework that proves cause and effect. No-one in this chamber nor any predecessor to anyone in this chamber has ever provided that. You have never provided the specific quantified effect of carbon dioxide from human activity on any climate factor, whether it be temperature—air temperature, ocean temperature or land temperature—or the frequency, severity or duration of storms, droughts, floods or snowfall. You've never provided it on ocean alkalinity or ocean salinity. You've never provided the specific impact, and yet that is fundamental to any policy. If you cannot provide the specific impact, how the hell can you make a policy? If you cannot provide the specific impact, how the hell can you make a cost-benefit analysis? If you cannot provide the specific impact, how the hell can you measure progress? Senator Pocock has foreshadowed some good amendments, we see, but there's no basis for the actual policy. You can't track the progress without the specific measurement. What is the impact of human carbon dioxide on any climate factor? Nothing at all has ever been provided on that, anywhere in the world.
Sixty-seven, heading for 68, per cent of Australians did not vote for the Labor Party to be in government, yet the debate has been gagged. Senator Macdonald, who was Father of the Senate at the time, in 2016 brought to the Senate's attention that the climate science has never been debated in this chamber. It's never been debated in this chamber and it still isn't being debated. I've challenged Senator Waters many times. I challenged her 12 years ago, in October 2010. She ran from the debate. She would not debate me. I challenged her again in May 2016; she ran from me again. I challenged her here in the Senate. She ran from me and has refused to debate me on either the corruption of climate science or the science. That is fact.
I have a question on process. Senator Waters had a specific question for the minister. This committee stage is a chance for us to ask the minister questions and get responses. I understand Senator Roberts has amendments he may wish to speak to. I haven't heard him talk about them yet. I am just wondering if we could bring this back to what the committee stage is designed for, which is to scrutinise the legislation.
I recognise your point, but I'm sure Senator Roberts was getting to the question he might have for the minister. It's not really a point of order, but I will suggest, Senator Roberts, that you get to the questions before your time expires in 4½ minutes.
I am getting there. Senator Waters has talked about 'targets that reflect science' but the minister has never provided any science to back this bill up. Neither have the Greens and Senator Waters in particular. Then she talked about science-based targets. Never have we seen them.
The point I'm getting to is that my amendment will require cost-benefit analysis to be inserted into the bill for future progress reports from the Climate Change Authority. I want to know if the minister understands that there has never been provided specific, quantified evidence, so how the hell can we ever have a basis for this legislation? Is the minister aware, for example, that 10 senators and MPs have put in writing the fact that nowhere have they been provided with any evidence from their party or from the parliament? I'll read these names out. These are the names of senators and MPs with character, courage and integrity: Mr Llew O'Brien, Mr Craig Kelly, Mr Kevin Andrews, Mr George Christensen, Mr Bob Katter, Senator Eric Abetz, Senator Connie Fierravanti-Wells, Senator Gerard Rennick, Senator Pauline Hanson and I. We have provided been provided at any time ever in parliament or from their parties with such evidence. Is the minister aware that this bill of hers builds on Prime Minister John Howard's position in complying with the UN's Kyoto Protocol in 1997 and that later on, after he introduced the Renewable Energy Target and stole farmers' property rights through his government, he then said in 2013 that he was agnostic on climate science? I care about that because it's hurting people right around the country.
My amendment introduces the concept of cost-benefit analysis into climate change. It introduces the need for specific evidence into the basis for legislation. Will you support my amendment and, if not, why not?
I want to return to the amendment moved by Senator Waters in this debate. It's a simple amendment seeking to change the emissions targets under this bill. My understanding of this amendment is it would change the 43 per cent target by 2030 to at least 75 per cent by 2030 and also substitute a net-zero target with what is termed here a negative emissions target. My primary question to the Greens, on whose behalf I believe Senator Waters moved this, is: are these increased obligations on Australian businesses and industry matched with reductions that would occur overseas in other countries? Would other countries be expected to match the increased emissions reductions we would take in just the next eight years before we take the same reductions in our industries?
It's an extremely pertinent question, given what is happening around the world right now and particularly what has happened since the Glasgow conference only last November. Less than a year ago all the rich and well-to-do members of our global society flew on private jets to Glasgow and the surrounds. In fact, the Glasgow Airport was too congested; they had to go to other airports close by. There were that many private jets. There was a flotilla of private jets flying into Scotland. Not since the Spanish Armada had the British Isles been attacked in this way! They flew in and they made all these commitments. We were all told coal is dead and what have you. Less than a year later, European governments are now subsidising follow fuels.
Yesterday, the new Prime Minister of the United Kingdom announced massive subsidies to people using electricity which comes from gas and coal in the United Kingdom. That's less than a year later, from the German Greens party. May I remind the Australian Greens of this? They don't talk much about this. I used to hear the Australian Greens talk a lot about the German Greens, because I believe their party kind of started in Germany. That's where the first Greens party came from, and I suppose they're just following the German Greens. Soon we can look forward to the Australian Greens reopening coal-fired power stations in this country! But they got their start in Germany. They often mentioned that, but they don't mention them much anymore. They're very silent about their colleagues there on the east side of the Rhine. There, in Germany, the Greens have opened up—or they are opening up; they're in government—21 coal fired power stations right now.
My question to the Greens is: is this policy going to make sure it's mandatory that our businesses shut down and reduce their emissions by 75 per cent by 2030 while we sit back and—not even criticise—just let the German government open up coal fired power stations to keep their petrochemical industries and refineries and smelters going? Is that the plan? How would this plan, which seems unbelievably unfair to Australians and to Australian businesses, in any way help the environment? I think that's what we're all here for or what we're debating here—to apparently reduce emissions to protect the environment. That's the objective of this bill. The objective of this bill is to help reduce the impacts of global climate change and make our contribution in that way. How would adding on this extra burden to Australian businesses, in the context of Europe reopening coal-fired power stations—Italy said only last night that they're reopening coal-fired power stations; Europe is going in the other direction—in any way affect the climate at all, even one iota? And why would we do that to our own businesses and industry?
I do give the Greens some leeway here in that at least the United Kingdom government have themselves committed to, I believe, a 68 per cent reduction of emissions or something of that level. Sorry; it's a 78 per cent reduction in emissions by 2035—so it's a little bit later. That's similar to what the Greens are suggesting here. As I say, the United Kingdom are doing nothing to get towards that. They're fracking again and opening up the North Sea et cetera. But that's their target, like the Greens' target of 75 per cent. It's not far off that, albeit five years earlier.
My second question to the Greens is: what analysis have you done of the impacts of the United Kingdom's 78 per cent target on their own economy, their own business and their own cost structure? A slow-moving disaster is unfolding in the United Kingdom at the moment, at least in part due to their naive and ill-thought-through commitments to net zero emissions and, in this case, particularly, a 78 per cent reduction by 2035. Because of those commitments that they have made in the last few years, the United Kingdom had said no to fracking. They banned fracking right across the British Isles. Because of those commitments, they had refused to release and license new gas exploration areas in the North Sea, which has been for decades the United Kingdom's means of gas and oil access. Because of all those commitments, they have left themselves in a position where they are vulnerable to the aggression of a Russian dictator, and they are now having to take desperate measures just so people can heat their homes over what are brutal winters in the Northern Hemisphere.
It is an unbelievable situation when, months away from winter beginning, a developed country cannot guarantee that people will be able to stay warm. At this stage, unless something changes, it is not too dramatic to say that people will almost inevitably die over the European winter, unnecessarily, because of the failed, naive climate change policies that have put Europe in this mess. That is exactly what's happened. They have refused to take sensible decisions to develop their own resources and allow their countries access to reasonable amounts of energy, and now they're in this position where there are not many options available for the United Kingdom.
The new prime minister, Prime Minister Truss, has already announced that she will cap electricity bills. While that may provide some temporary relief for British residents, it is going to create a whole lot of other problems that have not even been considered yet, No. 1 being cost. The projected cost of this price-capping scheme is estimated at 130 billion pounds—a quarter of a billion Australia dollars—just this winter or this coming year. To put that in context, the United Kingdom's pandemic response—their JobKeeper scheme, which they termed a furlough scheme—'only' cost the British taxpayer $53 billion. The costs of net zero are approaching, and probably will exceed, three times the cost of the pandemic response in the United Kingdom. Has there ever been a more costly, more failed policy than net zero emissions? It is failing and failing so quickly. It's only been a few years since we even heard the term 'net zero emissions'. It was kind of invented over the last decade by some corporate types associated with Richard Branson. It didn't come from the grassroots or any public uprising. It was a corporate plan. Over the last decade, over these 10 years, it has led to utter bankruptcy for what were once proud developed countries. The Australian Greens are saying, 'Let's do that.' Through these amendments, the Australian Greens are saying: 'What's happening over there in the United Kingdom with their 78 per cent target looks fantastic. It looks really, really good. Let's do that here!'
Shouldn't we pause here? We should just pause and not go further down this track, which is clearly inflicting enormous pain on the British taxpayer. It is unclear yet how this will actually flow through in the European winter. The United Kingdom government is destroying the price mechanism, which is trying to ration demand given that there's not enough energy. Now they'll destroy that link, and the people won't reduce their power demand because prices won't go up as high. They still will not have enough energy, so it's very unclear what will happen now, whether there'll be blackouts or whether there will have to be mandatory government type restrictions. Indeed, the President of the European Union, Ursula von der Leyen, said last night that they may have to have 'mandatory controls' on energy use, in her words, 'to flatten the curve'. Where have we heard that before?
It will only be two weeks, Senator Rennick. It'll only be two weeks. Don't worry about it—we're all in this together! Well, I don't think we should go in this together with the United Kingdom. I think the Greens need to explain to this parliament why we are adopting the same targets that have failed in the United Kingdom and will potentially inflict the same pain on Australians that is happening to the British people right now. (Time expired)
It's great to address the chamber on this very important bill. I'd like to address Senator Canavan's concerns about the environment as a result of these renewables because that is what really concerns me about the path that we are taking. If we continue down the path of constantly getting rid of our base-load energy in this country, like coal, and replacing it with wind, solar, lithium batteries and transmission lines, we are going to create an environmental catastrophe. I touched on this last night. It is well known that wind farms kill millions and millions of birds and bats. They kill apex birds. They kill lots and lots of bats. Many people probably don't know that bats, along with bees, are one of the major pollinators in our environment.
Then we've got the issue with batteries. Batteries come from rare earth minerals like lithium, for example. Lithium is a one per cent ore body. You have to mine a hundred tonnes of ore to get one tonne of metal. That involves an intensive electrolysis process that in itself requires lots and lots of energy. However, these rare-earths mines—it's just not that simple to go in and get the ore; you have to mine around and around and around. So, quite often you're going to have a stripping ratio of something like 10 to one, so you might have to move 1,000 tonnes of dirt just to end up with one tonne of metal. That metal, after it's been extracted through an extremely energy-intensive process, will then get shipped over to China, where it's put into a car battery, and that car battery is then shipped to the States, where it's put into a Tesla, and then the Tesla comes back to Australia, where basically you have to charge the battery by sticking it into the wall and using energy from coal.
We've also got solar panels. I just put an article up on my Facebook page this morning about the environmental catastrophe that is going on in California at the moment, and we'll have the same catastrophe here, whereby we'll have dangerous substances leaking from these solar panels once they are taken to the trash. This is concerning, because, as the head of the CSIRO said to me in estimates, it costs three times as much to recycle a lithium battery as it does to actually produce a battery. So, the big concern is, how are we going to afford—and what is the Labor Party going to do about this—recycling all these rare-earths batteries?
The other thing we need to touch on is the transmission lines. We are going to have to have hundreds and hundreds of kilometres of transmission lines. The Labor Party have already earmarked a $20 billion Rewiring Australia Fund. But it's not 'rewiring'; it's additional transmission lines that are going to have to connect all these tiny solar panels and windfarms, because these solar panels and windfarms don't produce anywhere near the same amount of energy as a coal-fired power station does. Going back to the nineties, when 70 or 80 per cent of the east coast was powered by coal-fired power, there were only about 30 stations, and only a limited number of transmission lines were needed in order to get the power to the home.
However, what I really want to do today is address the issue from yesterday, when Senator Wong couldn't actually define what net zero is. I spoke to her about it this morning, and she said, 'Senator Rennick, why do you think so many scientists have all got it wrong?' Well, I don't actually follow scientists. I follow the mathematics behind the science and, in particular, the algorithms that underpin good science. Last night—and I'll do this again, because I can see Senator Chisholm sitting over there with a silly grin on his face—the first scientist I referred to—
the first paper I raised was none other than Albert Einstein's 1917 quantum theory on radiation. He himself said that radiation is so insignificant that it drops out.
This is the thing about the whole science argument about how we're living in a greenhouse effect et cetera. At the end of the day, the two strongest forces of heat transfer in the environment are convection and conduction. Climate change theory wants you to believe that the atmosphere is a closed environment. The way a greenhouse works is that it traps convection. So, during the day, as the sun heats up the greenhouse, the air rises—
The TEMPORARY CHAIR: Minister, a point of order?
The tradition in our chamber is to have a wide-ranging debate. However, there is a motion before the chair from Senator Waters, and an amendment before the chair, and I do wonder whether Senator Rennick is being relevant. He may be, but I wonder if you might remind him of the question before the chair.
The TEMPORARY CHAIR: Thank you very much, Minister. Senator Rennick, I will remind you that the question before the chair is that the amendment moved by Senator Waters be agreed to, and I would direct you to be relevant to that amendment and, if you have questions for the minister, to get to them in a timely fashion. Thank you.
I am being relevant, because at the end of the day, whether it's a 43 per cent reduction in CO2 in the atmosphere or a 75 per cent reduction of CO2 in the atmosphere, it doesn't really matter. At the end of the day, it's convection that drives heat transfer in the atmosphere, not radiation.
Honourable senators interjecting—
You don't believe me? Then take Albert Einstein's word for it, because, at the end of the day, carbon dioxide absorbs and emits photons at only two frequencies. One is at 2.8 microns, which, according to Planck's law, has five times more energy—and that's incoming solar radiation. And the other one is outgoing long-wave radiation at 14.8 microns. The whole point of this discussion is to debunk the junk science behind climate change. I did this last night, but I'll just run you through the five different laws that prove that this disproves climate change.
Number 1 is the first law of thermodynamics: conduction. Basically, all carbon dioxide does is absorb and emit photons that come via the sun. That law is actually Einstein's special theory of relativity, E equals MC squared. As I said last night, he came up with that in 1905. Interestingly enough, he didn't get a Nobel Prize for that. He actually got a Nobel Prize for the photoelectric effect, which is one of four papers he wrote in1905. The photoelectric effect impacts the fact that every molecule has a specific vibrational frequency, and it's at that frequency that it can only absorb heat.
The other law that I also used last night was Wien's Law. That describes the frequency at which the CO2 molecule will emit heat. As I pointed out last night, that law says that carbon dioxide only emits heat at 192 degrees Kelvin, which is negative 80 degrees Celsius. So the only place where carbon dioxide will actually release heat is either at the bottom of Antarctica or about ten kilometres up in the troposphere. This matters because this disproves the science; the science is bogus.
I'll continue. What I have here is an energy budget from the Australian Academy of Science. They want you to believe that downwelling radiation averages on a 24-hour period over 342 watts per square metre. Funnily enough, the CSIRO says that the downwelling radiation from CO2 is 333 watts per square metre. That is a difference of nine watts per square meter. What does that tell you? These guys can't measure downwelling radiation. They can't even measure it. We're told the science is settled, but they can't even measure it. Guess what? The IPCC says that the increase in downwelling radiation since 1750, from the increase of CO2 in the atmosphere, is only two watts per square metre. Get this. Their error in measurements has a margin of error of 400 per cent. You can't even properly measure what it is you're supposed to be spending billions of dollars on. How is that going to work? Not too well.
Here's the other crazy thing. They want you to believe that the downwelling radiation from carbon dioxide is actually stronger than the incoming solar radiation from the sun. That's absurd. As we know from Plank's law from 1902, solar radiation effectively has a higher frequency of about up to 100 times in the ultraviolet range and the visible light range—the visible light range is about 30 times stronger than 14.8 microns in the infrared range. They want you to believe that infrared has more energy than ultraviolet and visible light. This stuff is pathetic.
Here's the real doozey. What's missing in this energy budget, people? I will tell you what it is. I'll give you a bit of a clue here. A bloke by the name of Isaac Newton hypothesised this back in the 16th or 17th century. That, of course, is gravity. These guys want you to think that photons aren't influenced by the gravity of the earth, which happens to be 5.6 trillion billion tonnes. They seem to think that that's not going to have a pull on a photon. So the whole thing is totally debunked.
My question to the minister is: why are there 40 different models to calculate net zero, if the science is settled? That came from the head of the CSIRO, who said there were 40 different models used to calculate net zero. The science is not settled if the head of the CSIRO in this country says there are 40 different models. Which model are we going to use here in Australia, and how do we know there isn't going to be arbitrage with the different models between different countries to exploit the confusion in climate change and to milk Australia dry?
If we needed any more graphic demonstration of the chaos that has beset coalition government energy policy over the last nine years, we've had it this morning. So far the contributions from the coalition side have included Senator Canavan, who indicated that he believes net-zero policies are failing policies; although, as I understand it, that is the current policy of the coalition. Senator Canavan doesn't believe in net zero. Senator Renick just doesn't believe in the science, and he's leaving the chamber.
True; my apologies, Senator Rennick. Senator Roberts of course also does not accept the science, and he doesn't accept that anyone has ever provided him any evidence.
Senator Roberts has on many occasions asked people to provide him with empirical evidence, and I've sat through extended exchanges at Senate estimates where Senator Roberts engaged with the CSIRO on the extensive science that is in fact in the public domain and available to him. But he's asked particularly what's been provided to him in this chamber, and it has been engaged with on many occasions in the chamber as well. With the agreement of the Senate I would like to table just one contribution, which is a speech I made in 2016, funnily enough in response to a request from Senator Roberts that we put the science on the record. On that occasion I read through the names of the 20 most cited peer-reviewed papers about climate change and its effects, which was compiled by Thomson Reuters. I made the observation at that time that there were, in 2013, 4,000 papers that expressed a view on climate change. There are vast quantities of scientific information available to Senator Roberts; the problem is that Senator Roberts cares not to engage with them. That is the problem with this argument. There is nothing that can be provided in response to this request for more information that will ever satisfy Senator Roberts.
I seek leave of the Senate to table this speech, which is a record from Hansard.
No wonder it has taken a Labor government to land a climate policy and an energy policy. The previous government was so racked by division and dysfunction, so unable to agree amongst themselves, that nothing was ever able to be done, and the cost of that is being felt by the Australian people. It's being felt by an energy market that is experiencing real challenges. It's also the opportunity cost of the jobs in regional Australia, a part of Australia that the National Party claim to be so concerned about, for young people leaving school now which might have been developed in new industries or for the future that were stymied, not developed, because of inaction and uncertainty. Time after time business came before us and said, 'What we're looking for is certainty. What we're after is a clear policy that will let us make final investment decisions and let us plan for the transformation of our businesses to meet a low-carbon future.' So little of that was possible, so much of it impeded, by the chaos, division and dysfunction, and it's why the bill that's before us matters.
The amendment before the Chair from Senator Waters seeks to change the target. I don't think it will come as a surprise to Senator Waters that we will not be supporting this amendment, and I want to step through why. We have a mandate for the targets proposed in this bill. They are ambitious targets, and they are responsible targets. It's a policy we sought a mandate for during the election. We have talked about it after the election and consulted further with our community, and we will be sticking with that policy. It's a mandate we respect. It is a significant step up in our ambition. It is an achievable and responsible contribution to global efforts to keep to 1.5 degrees of warming.
The net zero by 2050 target is consistent with the Paris Agreement global temperature goal to hold the global temperature increase to well below two degrees and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1½ degrees. The bill does emphasise the importance of climate science. Its object clause refers to the temperature goals of the Paris Agreement. It requires that the Climate Change Authority's advice to the Minister for Climate Change and Energy on targets must explain how the targets have taken into account the matters set out in Article 2 of the Paris Agreement, including the global temperature goals.
As set out in clause 10 of the bill, this is a floor in Australia's emissions reduction ambition, and not a ceiling. Our aspiration is that the commitments of industry, states and territories and the Australian people will yield even greater emissions reductions in the coming decade. The Australian government outlined in its updated nationally determined contribution under Article 4 of the Paris Agreement, on 16 June 2022, that this is our approach. And, in addition, each successive target must be more ambitious than the last, as required by the Paris Agreement. The government must consider independent advice from the Climate Change Authority prior to making each new nationally determined contribution.
In concluding—and I expect Senator Waters wishes to make another contribution—I will just respond to her question about the way that the government deals with proposed projects in the oil, coal and gas sectors. Essentially, there are, as you have observed, a range of projects that proponents have flagged as possible projects in the future, and they are at different stages of development. As you all know, the economics of resource projects are changing. The projections that are developed by the Australian government are regularly updated. They incorporate the emissions associated with the anticipated demand for Australian exports, and that is something that is updated on a regular basis.
Order! Senator Pocock, that language is not parliamentary. I ask that you withdraw.
The TEMPORARY CHAIR: That may be very well, Senator Whish-Wilson. Senator Pocock, I ask that you find another term to use.
I withdraw this truth. In 2022 to be trying to debunk climate science in 10 minutes is why Australians are so frustrated. The arguments we're hearing are about increasing Russian gas prices, which is thanks to the two major parties not actually having good policy in place to prioritise Australians, and that's why we're actually subject to export prices. Let's keep that in mind when we hear the talk of Russia: we don't import gas from Russia. Why are we subjected to those prices? We've heard about how 43 per cent is ambitious, yet there's modelling showing that, if you add up all of the states and territories' commitments, that potentially gets us to 42 per cent. If one per cent is ambitious, I think Australians are going to be asking questions.
We know that climate policy is increasingly complex. In Australia we don't have a cap-and-trade framework, and these reductions in emissions will come from more targeted policies. With this complexity, there's the potential for uncertainty around investment decisions, particularly investment in renewable energy. I'd like to ask the minister: is the government prepared to consider a process that would set out the emissions reductions expected of each sector?
Thank you, Senator Pocock, and thank you for your constructive approach to this debate. I'm happy to confirm that this government is not scared of accountability in providing detailed information on our emissions and policies across sectors. Under paragraph 12(1)(d) of the bill the effectiveness of the Commonwealth's policies in reducing emissions in the sectors covered by each policy must be included in the annual statement, and the government will meet this requirement. For example, the safeguard mechanism has a particular focus on reducing industrial and fugitive emissions. Our national inventory reports, quarterly updates and the official projections of emissions under the UNFCCC and Paris Agreement already detail sectoral emissions. For example, our last quarterly report, released last week, found that, for the last full year of the previous government, emissions for the year to March 2022 are estimated to be 487.1 megatonnes of CO2 equivalent.
The 1½ per cent increase in emissions over the year to March reflects annual increases in emissions from stationary energy, transport, fugitives, industrial processes and agriculture sectors. The report details the emissions of each of these sectors as well as electricity waste, industrial processes and land sectors. Our official projections look at changes in these sectoral emissions over time and at our challenge of reversing the decade of inaction, secrecy and denial.
These sectoral emissions and projected changes will also be clear in the annual climate change statements. We are already working with the policy frameworks for key sectors, such as our National Electric Vehicle Strategy and National Energy Transformation Partnership with the states and territories. The issue of sectoral emissions will also be a key issue for the Climate Change Authority's advice on future targets, including the 2035 target.
I, too, would like to observe that it's nice to finally get to questions in the committee stage, because that is, in fact, what this part of the debate is for.
I thank the minister for almost answering my questions, but I'm going to have some more questions about this. There are 114 new coal and gas projects in the pipeline, and I did ask whether or not the modelling that underpinned the 43 per cent target, which I understand was prepared by RepuTex, factored in those 114. My understanding is the answer is no, but I think the minister actually shared some information about departmental modelling for future coal export demand. So my first question is for the minister to explain what question she thought she was answering and for her to then answer my actual question.
I have some supplementaries as I fear the diatribe of climate denialism will resume if I sit down. So I'll ask all of my questions whilst I have the call, lest I not have an opportunity in the future. The International Energy Agency, in their Coal 2021 report, showed that Australia has more new coal export mines than anywhere else in the world. So I want to know how the government thinks it can meet the 43 per cent target while opening these new coal mines? I note that the New South Wales and Queensland governments have approved three coal mines since this bill passed the House of Representatives, and I'd like to ask whether the government intends to reject approval for those coal mines?
I also note that BHP has just put in an application to run a coalmine until—I don't even know how to say it!—2113, which is insane. How is that consistent with the government's climate bills. So I'm really keen for the minister to respond to how on earth we have a chance of meeting this inadequate target whilst opening and considering opening 114 new coal and gas projects?
Opposition senators interjecting—
I want to note that I'm flattered by the questions from the opposition about cost of living and global progress. I fear they're actually not genuinely asking for me to respond, but the answer, of course, is that if we don't act on the climate crisis the cost of living will absolutely dwarf everything else—as every thinking person understands. This bill does not even get us close to the Paris Agreement, so it is clear that Australia is a global laggard. So with that done, Minister, I'm interested in using the committee stage for its appropriate purpose.
In answer to your first question: the RepuTex modelling was built on the 2021 projections published by the then government. The 2021 projections assumed some new fossil fuel developments in light of projected global and local demand.
You asked more generally about the government's approach to new projects. This is an issue that has been well litigated inside this chamber and outside of it, but I will go through our approach again. Business, industry and investors all say the same thing: domestically, we need to upgrade the transmission, upgrade the grid and inject more firmed renewables. The government agree that this is what is required. We are not unrealistic about the role of gas in our energy mix. We understand that gas plays an important part in powering communities by firming and peaking electricity, and as a feed source and a source of heat for industry and for manufacturers. Any new large-scale coal or gas project will automatically come under the remit of Labor's reformed safeguard mechanism. This is the way that we will be reducing the emissions of Australia's biggest emitters.
The government has released a consultation paper on the design of the safeguard mechanism reforms, with the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water beginning with extensive consultation process across the country, and we strongly encourage all stakeholders to have their say. We also need to support our trading partners.