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Transcript of interview: ABC 936 Hobart: 23 April 2009: climate change.



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PW 104/09 23 April 2009 TRANSCRIPT OF INTERVIEW - ABC 936 HOBART SUBJECT: CLIMATE CHANGE E & O E - PROOF ONLY JOURNALIST: Good morning, good to talk to you. WONG: Good to speak with you. JOURNALIST: Is Christine Milne right about the devil in the deep blue sea that you are in fact angling with at the moment? WONG: Look, of course there are a pretty wide range of views in this debate Tim. I think that’s very obvious. There are some who want a different scheme; there are some who don’t believe in climate change, there’s a lot of different views. But look, I think the Australian Conservation Foundation who gave evidence yesterday saying that the Parliament should approve the scheme, they may want changes, but they recognise that we need legislation this year, I think they were right on the money. We have an opportunity this year, for the first time in the nation’s history to turn around the continued growth in our carbon pollution, to get us on track to a low carbon future, to drive the investment in clean technology and renewable energy. This is a big transformation and we need to get started. JOURNALIST: Do you have any interest in what this committee comes up with or would you imagine that these are merely the views of vested interests in that they... path needs to be charted come what may? WONG: Of course the Government is interested in consulting and that’s why we’ve had such a lot of consultation in the lead up to this legislation. We had a paper out, the Green Paper last year, in the middle of last year which was very detailed, a lot of consultation with environment groups, with business, with industry, with community about that. We then had the White Paper which the Prime Minister announced in December. We’ve had a Senate inquiry into the legislation, this is another inquiry that the Liberal Party and the Greens together have sought on issues related to climate change. We’re happy to consult which is why we’ve put so much of this out to consultation. But at some point, Australia has to get on with the job, we have to start turning around our emissions which are continuing to grow every year, will grow without the legislation to around about 120 per cent of what we were at 2000. That’s the path we’re on, we’ve got to take a different path and we’ve got to give the right signal to the global community and the global negotiations. JOURNALIST: Are you starting though, from too low a point do you think, the business community says not, those who have a better knowledge of the science than I do believe you are? WONG: Well look, we’ve had to make decisions in the national interest and that’s the way the Government’s approached this and I accept people have a different set of views, a different range of views about what the best way forward is. I just want to remind people what minus 15 by 2020

would actually mean. It means that instead of being at a 120 per cent above 2000 levels, we’d be at 15 per cent below 2000 levels. So that’s a turnaround of around 30 per cent in a decade on one of the most carbon intensive economies in the world. It’s a very, very substantial reduction and what we have said is we are prepared to have deeper cuts after 2020 if the world is prepared to do the same. This is a significant transformation but the most important thing is that we can’t keep talking about it; we have to get on with acting.

JOURNALIST: Penny Wong, just before you go, there’s a report from a British researchers to say that sea ice in the Antarctic has in fact grown by 300 thousand square kilometres over 30 years, where the general and accepted belief is that the polar ice caps are melting. Should we perhaps be revisiting or reviewing some of the pervading wisdom on the Antarctic and the melting of the ice caps?

WONG: I think what we should do is to look at the most substantive international work on this which is the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the fourth assessment report which came out as you know in 2007, which said very clearly that climate change is occurring and that human beings are contributing to it. Now that, when you count the number of authors and peer review you are talking thousands of the world’s best scientists, it’s the most scrutinised piece of scientific assessment in possibly many, many decades. And that was very clear about climate change occurring. And I would also say our own scientists here in Australia, if you look at the CSIRO - their analysis for example of the Murray Darling Basin, their analysis of what will occur, what is likely to occur in terms of Australia agricultural sector - really demonstrates we are seeing climate change, we will continue to see it and it demonstrates Australia is vulnerable to climate change which is why we have to act and why we have to pass this legislation to start turning around our carbon pollution.

JOURNALIST: Does that mean though coming back finally to this British research that you dispense with all research other than what the IPCC’s taken into account?

WONG: No not at all. In fact Australia is, through Peter Garrett’s portfolio, funding significant work in the Antarctic and in my own portfolio we have the Climate Change Science Program. I understand in terms of the Antarctic that it is the case that there is more ice in some parts, but it is also the case is that there has been ice lost in other parts of Antarctica. This is a complex area, a complex continent and we need to do more research. But I think for us to turn away from the consensus science really would be most irresponsible at this stage, particularly for a country like Australia.

JOURNALIST: Penny Wong thank you for your time.