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Tuesday, 20 March 2007
Page: 33

Mrs MARKUS (5:09 PM) —My question is addressed to the Minister for the Environment and Water Resources. Would the minister update the House on the government’s efforts to manage climate change? Is the minister aware of any alternative views?

Mr TURNBULL (Minister for the Environment and Water Resources) —I thank the member for Greenway for her question. Australia is boxing well above its weight in the battle against climate change. Australia, unlike most of the developed countries that have ratified the Kyoto protocol, is on track to meet its Kyoto target. That is the factual measure of the government’s achievement and the test of its policies.

There are only 15 countries in the world today that are likely to come in below their Kyoto targets. Twelve of them are countries of the former Soviet Union. The benchmark was 1990. Their economies completely collapsed, and it is because of that that their emissions will be below their 1990 level. Crashing the economy is well within the capacity of the opposition, but it is not a method of reaching your Kyoto target that anyone would recommend.

There are another three countries that fit into that category. One is the United Kingdom, which will come in below its target because it shut down its coal industry. That will strike a warm glow in the heart of the member for Kingsford Smith. He does not believe there should be any automatic expansion of the coal industry. That is another way of meeting your Kyoto target. The remaining two countries are Sweden and Iceland. The Icelanders are very lucky to have an enormous endowment of geothermal energy. The Swedes rely on nuclear power for up to 45 per cent of their energy.

The Australian government is adopting an approach to Kyoto which is based on objective science, not on ideology. We recognise that the Kyoto protocol as it stands today is not the answer. It is not achieving a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions because it is not global. It excludes the major emitters. It excludes the fastest growing emitters. We are seeking to engage those emitters in a practical way by developing the clean coal technologies that the Minister for Industry, Tourism and Resources spoke about earlier, which will enable the developing countries of the world—countries like China that are so heavily dependent on coal—to have the technology to deliver the energy they need for development and at the same time lower their carbon intensity and reduce the growth in their greenhouse gas emissions. At the same time, we are working through the AP6 right across the Pacific through other fast-growing economies to develop the skills and technologies that will enable us to achieve this goal.

Unlike many of the countries that the opposition talks about and holds up—countries like Spain, which is going to miss its Kyoto target by 36 per cent, and Italy, which will miss it by 20 per cent; most of the countries that have ratified the protocol are not going to meet it—the Australian government measures its performance in the climate change battle by results, not rhetoric, and by substance, not symbols.

Mr Howard —Mr Speaker, I ask that further questions be placed on the Notice Paper.