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Transcript
Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Senator the Hon. Ian Campbell

Press conference at Yaluma Primary School, Perth

Wednesday, 27 July 2005

Climate change negotiations with Asia-Pacific


Journalist:
Senator, the report of the secret regional pact on greenhouse emissions, is it true?

Senator Campbell:
Well we’ve been working on bilateral arrangements with these nations, we’ve been building regional arrangements and searching for something that is going to work beyond Kyoto. It’s quite clear that Kyoto Protocol won’t get the world to where it wants to go. We’re going to have a 40 per cent increase in greenhouse gas emissions under the Kyoto Protocol and the world needs a 50 per cent reduction. We’ve got to find something that works better; Australia is working on that with partners around the world.

Journalist:
Why is this better than Kyoto?

Senator Campbell:
Well, what’s got to be better than Kyoto is, why we need something that’s better than Kyoto is because under Kyoto greenhouse gas emissions will rise by around 40 per cent. The world needs greenhouse gas emissions to come down by roughly 50 per cent this century; the Kyoto Protocol only includes about a third of the world’s emissions; we need something that is bigger, more practical and more likely to get results. So Australia is working with partners. In terms of the proposal that’s been alluded to on the front page of The Australian today we would like to make formal announcements on things along those lines down the track but Australia is, and I reassure the Australian people, working on something that is more effective post-Kyoto. We know as a country that we’re vulnerable; we know the world is vulnerable; we know that Australia only emits only 1.4 per cent of the world’s greenhouse gases. Anything that’s going to work in the future has to engage all major emitters and Australia has been committed to work in that way for a long time.

Journalist:
So will this involve firm targets or just sort of voluntary, notional targets?

Senator Campbell:
Any details of the proposals we’re working on will be announced in the very near future.

Journalist:
Why do you have these countries (…inaudible…)?

Senator Campbell:
Well the countries that are involved in any future proposal will be announced when we announce the details of the proposal. But the main target, the main aim of effective action to reduce greenhouse gases, is to involve developing countries, rapidly developing countries who have legitimate needs to increase their energy use but also we need to find the answer to the global imperative of reducing emissions. We need to expand the energy the world consumes and reduce the emissions. That’s going to need new technologies; it’s going to need the development of new technologies and the deployment of them within developing countries. That is the conundrum, that is the policy problem that faces the world and Australia will be a part of finding the solution to it.

Journalist:
There must be incentive for Australia to be involved here. You mentioned technologies, perhaps we’d be a source of technologies for countries like perhaps China, India?

Senator Campbell:
We have a huge incentive – as I showed with the release of the Allens Consulting report on Australia’s vulnerability – although we although we only produce 1.4 per cent of the world’s emissions, in fact you could close down every power station in Australia tomorrow, or tonight, and within 12 months, with just the growth in China’s emissions, will replace all of those powerhouses in Australia within 12 months. Before the power stations go cold in Australia, all of our greenhouse gas emissions will have been reproduced in one country alone.

That highlights the fact that we need to engage developing countries, we need to develop technologies which can be developed in Australia and exported around the world – but it also shows that what we’re doing now, under the Kyoto protocol, is entirely ineffective. Anyone who tells you that the Kyoto protocol, or signing the Kyoto protocol is the answer, doesn’t understand the question.

Journalist:
So you’ll be optimistic that what, we’ll be able to work in association with countries like China and those other countries that are mentioned, which (…inaudible…) 40 per cent or whatever of greenhouse gas emissions, and do it effectively?

Senator Campbell:
It’s imperative that Australia is part of engaging countries that fall outside the Kyoto targets. The Kyoto problem is that it engages very few countries, most of the countries in it won’t reach their targets, and it ignores the big looming problem – that’s the rapidly developing countries. So Australia needs to be engaged. We need to be engaged to help save our climate and help save Australia. We can do whatever we want in Australia but it won’t solve the problem. We have to engage internationally and we will announce the details of these proposals in the very near future.

Journalist:
How long will we have to wait?

Senator Campbell:
You won’t have to wait very long, we’ve been working on this for a long time. We’ve been working bilaterally for a long time. We know that this is the answer, we know that the Kyoto protocol is a failure in terms of saving the climate – we have to do better.

Journalist:
How long have you been working on it?

Senator Campbell:
We’ve been working on bilateral and multi-lateral arrangements on ‘beyond Kyoto’ for the past 12 months. It was in our election policy – no one paid attention to it, everyone focused on Kyoto. The reality is that the Kyoto protocol…if you think the Kyoto protocol is the answer, you don’t know the question. The question is, how can you possibly say Kyoto is the answer when greenhouse gases under Kyoto will actually rise by 40 per cent, when the scientists tell us that during this century, to save our climate, you have to reduce them by around 50 per cent. We need to engage the big emitters, we need to engage the countries that have no commitments inside Kyoto, we need to ensure that we develop technologies that will see energy expand – because we need more energy. The people of Sub Sahara in Africa, the people of China, the people of India, the people of our region need more energy to have education, health and a living standard that we take for granted. But we need to do that while still reducing emissions drastically. That is going to require trillions of dollars of investment in technology. The development of that technology and the deployment of it as rapidly as possible, that is going to need something that is far more comprehensive, far more likely to produce results than the Kyoto protocol could even dream of.

Journalist:
So the details in a matter of days?

Senator Campbell:
Details will be announced in the very near future.

Journalist:
So you’ve signed off but you don’t want to announce it yet, is that the case?

Senator Campbell:
We’ll be announcing any future proposals in the very near future.

Journalist:
But have you signed off?

Senator Campbell:
As I said, we’ll be announcing the details of any proposals, any successful agreements in the very near future.

Thank you very much.

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