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Tuesday, 8 November 2016
Page: 2166

Senator WILLIAMS (New South WalesNationals Whip in the Senate) (17:01): On behalf of Senator Fawcett, I present the 163rd report of the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties: Paris Agreement, Kyoto Protocol—Doha amendment, and move:

That the Senate take note of the report.

I seek leave to incorporate the tabling statement in Hansard.

Leave granted.

The statement read as follows—

Mr President today I present the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties' Report 163 which contains the Committee's review of the Paris Agreement and the Doha amendment to the Kyoto Protocol. The Committee considered the two treaty actions together as Australia's obligations under both are closely related.

The Paris Agreement and the Kyoto Protocol are part of the ongoing implementation of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change which came into force in 1994. The Kyoto Protocol 'operationalised' the Convention. The Paris Agreement builds on the Convention and broadens the coverage of international climate action beyond the industrialised countries.

Mr President, the Paris Agreement has received overwhelming support both internationally and here in Australia. The world has acted swiftly. The Agreement was adopted in December 2015 and has already received the approval of the 55 countries covering 55 per cent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions required to bring it into force. It came into force last Friday, 4 November 2016. The speed with which this has happened is unprecedented in the recent history of international agreements.

We found that, in Australia, the Agreement has been welcomed as a positive step forward Mr President. It supports collective action on an issue that is of global concern. The Agreement provides an inclusive, common framework, sets clear goals and establishes a realistic process and pathway to move forward.

Mr President, the Agreement aims to strengthen the global response to climate change by setting a global goal to hold the increase in global average temperature to well below 2 degrees Celsius and to attempt to limit the increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius. In support of this aim, Australia has committed to reducing emissions by 26 to 28 per cent below 2005 levels of greenhouse emissions by 2030.

Mr President, questions were raised regarding the ability of Australia's current climate change policy framework to meet this commitment. For example, the Business Council of Australia considers that, to date, there has been a lack of coordination and consistency with broader energy policy. Witnesses emphasised the need for a stable, scalable framework with general political support so that we can provide confidence to stakeholders going forward.

The Committee sees the intended review of Australia's climate change policy framework in 2017 as an early opportunity to address some of these concerns as we start preparing the groundwork for Australia's future targets.

Mr President, despite the concerns a range of opportunities were identified for Australia as the world transitions to a global low-carbon economy. Australia has considerable expertise in responding to extreme weather events and this will be in demand. We have a rich supply of the mineral resources required for the manufacture and development of renewable technology. And, of course, we have abundant renewable power resources with our sun, wind and hydro power.

Mr President, the transition to the low-carbon economy that we are facing will require careful planning if all Australians are to reap these benefits. Australia is both a user and exporter of carbon intensive commodities and we have to find practical solutions to the social and economic challenges facing us.

Mr President, Australia has an excellent track record in meeting its commitments in similar situations. We met our commitments under the Kyoto Protocol and we are expected to meet our target under the second commitment period for that treaty.

The next Conference of the Parties to the Convention is being held in Marrakech this week. At that meeting decisions will be made regarding the implementation of the Paris Agreement including the development of its rulebook and the provision of climate finance to developing countries to help them adapt to changing conditions. Australia is committed to providing at least $1 billion over five years from our existing aid budget to climate finance.

Mr President, it is important that Australia can come to the table in Marrakech with clear evidence of its commitment to, and support of, the Paris Agreement. We need to have a say in the development of the implementation framework.

Mr President, the Committee supports Australia's ratification of the two treaty actions in this report and recommends that binding treaty action be taken.

Mr President, on behalf of the Committee, I commend the Report to the Senate.

Question agreed to.