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Monday, 23 November 2015
Page: 13257

Climate Change

Mr BANDT (Melbourne) (14:29): My question is to the Prime Minister. A month ago, I asked you how much greenhouse gas pollution would come from burning the coal in the Carmichael mine that your government approved. You said:

… I am very happy to take the honourable member's question on notice and will do the calculation and let him know.

I have not heard from you. Will parliament get an answer or have you realised it is not a good look to go to the Paris climate talks admitting that you approved a single coalmine that, alone, will generate more pollution than the entire European Union does in one year?

Honourable members interjecting

The SPEAKER: Members will cease interjecting. Before I call the Prime Minister, I remind the House that, if he has taken a question on notice, the answer will come in due course on notice—as a member for Melbourne well knows.

Mr Mitchell interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for McEwen will cease interjecting. The Prime Minister can choose to answer the other parts of the question if he wishes.

Mr TURNBULL (WentworthPrime Minister) (14:30): Thank you, Mr Speaker. I thank the honourable member for his question. We will certainly make some assumptions and send him some numbers, if he would like us to do that. But I am sure he can do them himself. I just say this to the honourable member: what the honourable member overlooks is that Australia is taking to the Paris Conference of the Parties very credible and substantial emissions cuts and targets. Our cuts of 26 to 28 per cent reduction from 2005 are very substantial. When they are measured on a per capita basis, which is the only way they can reasonably be compared with other countries, they are second only to the emission cuts offered by Brazil. So these are very substantial cuts, and they are recognised as such in the global community.

The honourable member mentioned coal. The honourable member hates coal—he really hates coal. The reality is that coal is part of the energy mix of the world today and will be for many decades to come. The world economies are moving to emitting less by new technologies—some are building nuclear power stations, everyone is building more renewables, more gas is being used and cleaner coal plants that emit less emissions and less tonnes of CO2 per megawatt hour of energy generated are being used. So all of those changes are happening.

I am glad the honourable member has asked me this question because it gives me the opportunity to report to the House that, in our meetings with the Premier of China, Li Keqiang, in Kuala Lumpur, I raised the issue of the new Chinese regulations which are designed to only permit coal with a relatively low sulphur content to be burned. Of course, Australian coal, by and large, has very low sulphur content relative to Chinese coal. I recognise that it will never be as clean as the honourable member would like, but in the world of coal Australia coal is relatively clean. I raised with the Premier the problem that there were administrative difficulties in managing those testings, and he gave an undertaking that he would look into that and ensure that the administrative problems and blockages are rectified. That will be good for Australian coal exporters and it will be good for Chinese coal importers alike. I thank the honourable member for the opportunity to allow me to make this point today.

Opposition members interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Isaacs will cease interjecting. The members for Griffith, Chifley and Charlton will cease interjecting. They interjected persistently through that answer. I warn them.