ABC AM Program - interview with Kim Landers

  • Transcript E&OE
14 December 2015

KIM LANDERS The Foreign Minister Julie Bishop was in Paris for the final stages of the climate negotiations and she joins us now from Perth.

Minister, good morning.

JULIE BISHOP Good morning.

KIM LANDERS You've said this Paris deal means that there is more flexibility for Australia to do more on climate change, so what more will the Federal Government do?

JULIE BISHOP The agreement reached in Paris is an important step forward in the global response to climate change, not just Australia.

We have for the first time an agreement that covers the entire globe and places binding obligations on all nations to play a constructive role according to their individual circumstances.

So countries from small island developing nations in the Pacific through to major emitters like the United States, China and India are all committed to taking action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The agreement commences in 2020 and that's when Australia, and other nations. will begin implementing the cuts to our greenhouse gas emissions, that we announced last August.

It was a decision of our party room and our Cabinet that Australia announce a target of 26 to 28 per cent cut on 2005 levels by 2030, and so I had a mandate from our Government and I was able to implement that by signing up to the agreement.

KIM LANDERS And yet within hours of you doing that some of your Liberal colleagues were already rubbishing the deal.

Dennis Jensen says it's essentially meaningless and that there's, "no reason why we should be metaphorically burning our economy just to appear good on the global stage".

Has he got it wrong?

JULIE BISHOP What was important about this agreement was that it balanced environmental concerns and ambitions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions with economic growth and economic activity.

There are five yearly reviews to ensure nations are meeting their commitments and it also gives great scope to consider technological breakthroughs which will provide opportunities for even bigger cuts if nations embrace that.

KIM LANDERS Well you talk about those...

JULIE BISHOP And this all plays in well to Mr Turnbull's innovation agenda.

We announced a National Innovation and Science Agenda recently and innovation, research and development, technological breakthroughs were at the very heart of this Paris agreement.

KIM LANDERS And yet it is clear that current countries' pledges will not be enough to achieve this aim of limiting global warming to well below 2 degrees, so doesn't that mean that Australia is going to have to make some deeper cuts at some stage and rethink domestic policies?

JULIE BISHOP The targets are through to 2030. The holding temperature rises to well below 2 degrees is something that is much further into the future, 2050, beyond.

And so we are looking at this incrementally. There's a transition underway worldwide, and the targets that countries announce are to 2030, and there will be five yearly reviews to ensure that countries are not only meeting their targets but if there are opportunities to make bigger cuts they will.

KIM LANDERS You talk about those...

JULIE BISHOP Australia did play a very significant role in chairing the Umbrella Group, and this group at the Climate Change Conference comprising Australia, US, Canada, New Zealand, Japan, Russia and others, worked very hard to ensure a consistent framework that applied to all countries, as responding to climate change is only effective if all countries act.

KIM LANDERS Well you're talking about all countries acting and you've spoken about those five yearly reviews but there are no penalties for countries failing to meet their commitments, so what's the point?

JULIE BISHOP The point is that we have all countries signed up to an agreement, it's legally binding on them to put forward targets and virtually all countries did - 187 countries put forward targets.

And Australia is one of the few nations on track to meet, indeed exceed our commitments up to 2020, and now there is enormous momentum behind all countries meeting the commitments that they have now publicly announced.

This is the first time we've had nationally determined commitments to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and I think that with the technological breakthroughs that are coming from a focus on renewables, on energy efficiency, on new generation power stations, we will see some significant cuts to greenhouse gas emissions.

Indeed, Australia's plan will take us from one of the, well, about the 14th largest emitter down to the 25th. We are halving our per capita emissions and in fact we are reducing our emissions per unit of GDP by two-thirds.

KIM LANDERS Minister you've said this morning that jobs might change in some areas but there will be new jobs - what jobs? How many jobs?

JULIE BISHOP The whole point of embracing a target of 26 to 28 per cent is we are taking into account the scientific and technical advice on getting environmental outcomes but not destroying our economy.

We have to have economic growth. We are looking for jobs growth because we want to ensure we maintain our standard of living while being environmentally responsible.

So there are new jobs in new areas where renewables are taking off. I mean Australia has a 25 per cent renewable target by 2020. That provides new job opportunities, and there are new jobs in technological innovations as well as maintaining the jobs in existing industries. So it's very exciting times.

KIM LANDERS Okay Minister, speaking of jobs and the economy, the midyear budget review of course is out tomorrow. How much of a reality check, a wakeup call, is it going to be for voters?

JULIE BISHOP Well I'll leave that to the Treasurer and the Finance Minister to announce tomorrow but we are determined to ensure we are responsible in our financial management, that any new spending is offset by savings, we inherited a...

KIM LANDERS How big will those savings be?

JULIE BISHOP Well I'm not the person to announce that. That's clearly done by the Treasurer so I'm not going to announce the day before what the Treasurer will be announcing tomorrow as part of the midyear economic review.

KIM LANDERS Foreign Minister Julie Bishop thank you very much for speaking with AM.

JULIE BISHOP My pleasure.

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