Question Time: Climate change

  • Transcript, E&OE

Mrs PRENTICE (Ryan) (15:06): My question is to the Minister for Foreign Affairs. Minister, many of my constituents have contacted me to ask what Australia's role will be at the upcoming climate change conference in Paris. Minister, would you please update the House on the details of the Paris climate change agreement? What will Australia's role be in negotiations?

Ms JULIE BISHOP (Curtin–Minister for Foreign Affairs) (15:07): I thank the member for Ryan for her question and I am happy to answer her constituents' inquiries about this matter because Australia does have a very positive story to tell in relation to climate change and the positive, pragmatic action we are taking to reduce our share of global greenhouse gas emissions. Last August, we announced that the proposed target that we would take to the Paris climate change meeting in November and December this year was achievable, sensible and in our national interest–and that was a target of a 26 to 28 per cent reduction on 2005 levels by 2030. Australia's contribution to global greenhouse gas emissions in total terms is small–it is about one per cent–but on a per capita basis it is much more significant. What this target will achieve is an effective halving of our per capita emissions and that is significant. It also means we will reduce our emissions on a per unit of GDP target by about two-thirds. That is why it has been a target widely welcomed but we do know it is achievable.

At the Lima conference, in 2014, it was agreed by all countries present that each country would nationally determine their own targets and their own climate change commitments. That means no other country can dictate Australia's targets and our climate change commitments–the United Nations cannot. Each target is nationally determined by the relevant country. I am pleased to announce that we understand that at least 170 countries have already put forward their targets to take to next month's meeting in Paris. Those 170 countries represent about 93 per cent of global emissions and about 98 per cent of global GDP and we expect more will come online.

Our role in Paris will be to ensure that we negotiate an outcome for Australia that is in our national interest. The Minister for the Environment and I, having responsibility for Australia's treaty obligations, will be there to ensure that we play a constructive role. Our targets are not for negotiation but what we will be doing is focusing on a global agreement that includes developing and developed countries to ensure that there is accountability and transparency about how each country intends to meet their targets. Australia has a reputation for saying what we will do and then doing what we say we will do–because we have not only met our targets for the 2008-2012 period, we have exceeded them. We will meet our 2012-2020 target–in fact, I believe we will exceed it–and we have most certainly put forward a constructive target for 2030 that I believe is in our interests and will be achievable. We will play a constructive role.

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