Press Conference - Glasgow, Scotland

01 Nov 2021
Prime Minister

PRIME MINISTER: I'm very pleased to be here with Minister Taylor. I want to thank you, Angus, for the great work you've done in pulling together Australia's plan. The Australian Way plan to get to net zero by 2050. This is a significant commitment by Australia, and today it was very pleasing to be able to join with our Pacific Island family of those who were able to join us here today. We wish more of them were able to come, but COVID has prevented many of them from coming to Glasgow. But their voices will be strong and we've been listening carefully to their voices over many years. When I was in Tuvalu a few years ago, that was the last time we came together as the Pacific Islands Forum in person. And at that meeting, I gave the undertaking that Australia would investigate thoroughly the ability for us to make a commitment of net zero by 2050. And the fact that we can now do that here with them here in Glasgow means a great deal and I want to thank them for their warm support as we were able to discuss this morning as part of our meeting.

We were also able to advise them, not only net zero by 2050, but our expectation that our emissions reduction by 2030 will fall by some 35 per cent and most significantly, for our Pacific partners that we are doubling our climate finance commitments from a billion dollars to $2 billion. Now we're not putting this through other worldwide institutions or other groups like this. We're doing this direct, because we want to make sure that the climate finance investments that Australians are making are being invested in our backyard amongst our Pacific Island family and amongst our South East Asian partners and friends. We want to cut out all the red tape and get rid of all the bureaucracy and make sure that this funding is going to work directly within our region, making a big difference for their resilience and their mitigation to ensure that they can deal not just with trying to reduce their own emissions, but more significantly being able to deal with the consequences of climate change, which they're already experiencing in their many Pacific island nations. $200 million of that is specifically going into those Pacific Island nations, and so much of that is going through direct grants that make real projects a reality for them on the ground. So it was wonderful to be with our Pacific family today. We wish more of them could have been here with us, but we will ensure that together the Pacific family will be raising their voices loudly. But Angus, you might want to particularly refer to some of those projects that make a big difference and of course, the high integrity carbon credits that we've been able to sign agreements with Fiji today.

THE HON. ANGUS TAYLOR MP, MINISTER FOR INDUSTRY, ENERGY AND EMISSIONS REDUCTION: That's right, so we've just announced an extra $44 million to support high integrity credits, purchasing credits from the South Pacific and most importantly, helping them with practical action to bring down their emissions in a way that is supportive for them and good for Australia and good for the world. We were just discussing examples in the South Pacific where they're having to pay 13 or 14 cents a kilowatt hour to produce electricity with current technologies. But what we've laid out in our plan is a pathway to get those costs to a fraction of that over the coming decade. We know within range of producing electricity from solar at more like 1.5 cents a kilowatt hour with backup and storage, which is what you need. And they're the practical solutions that could work in the South Pacific, could work in Australia and work across the world. And that's the centrepiece of our plan, which we talked Pacific leaders through.

JOURNALIST: And which Pacific leaders did you meet from which countries and overall PM, what are you, you're only here for 48 hours, what are you seeking to achieve here? What difference do you think you can make to this Summit?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, I was very pleased to be here with Prime Minister Bainimarama, who is also chair of the Pacific Island Forum. And as you know, Prime Minister Bainimarama has been a strong champion of this cause. It's a topic that he and I have been discussing for many years, and he is very pleased that Australia has now made this commitment and has supported us strongly in doing that. We're also here with the Prime Minister of Tuvalu and the President of Palau, and we had hoped for the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea to be here. But the COVID situation in Papua New Guinea,I spoke to Prime Minister Marape the weekend before last. He was hoping to be here, but of course he has to attend to the very serious situation in Papua New Guinea. But I was able to brief him on the announcements we’ve made on our Plan. And so for the Pacific island nations, this is a very practical reality for them. And so you ask what our key objective is. Not only just to advise the commitments that Australia has and the progress we're already making, which is underappreciated. 20 per cent plus on emissions reductions, which exceeds many other countries around the world, with like economies to Australia. But the fundamental point is that if we want the whole world's emissions to go down, then the technologies that drive that, we have to drive their cost. So much of the focus is on driving the costs up on other technologies. But what is needed is driving the cost down on the technologies that we're hoping others will take up. We can't control the cost of carbon based fuels in China or in India or in Indonesia. But what we can do is work with those countries to ensure that the technologies they are adopting for their industrial growth and their strength and their jobs is low emissions and low cost, which actually can help them achieve their jobs. Unless through developing economies, we can achieve that reduction in emissions, then the outcome of Pacific Island nations won't change.

JOURNALIST: Has anyone during your time here, including those Pacific leaders asked you for a bigger 2030 target?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, they always have. In every discussion I've ever had with Pacific Island leaders, that is something they've always encouraged us to do. And as I sat at the Kainaki Declaration from Tuvalu, that was one of the things that they requested of us, that we could get to that position of net zero by 2050. So I was very pleased. That was, a that was a very long meeting. I remember it very, very well. And the passion of that meeting, I think, has been met now by our commitment and what we've announced today. And the plan to achieve it then was a good opportunity to talk them through our plan.

JOURNALIST: So [inaudible] plan, did they give you any constructive feedback on that? And just on the communique out of the G20 yesterday, the language seems a little bit watered down, you know, no longer 2050. It's more almost or by mid-century. Can you just give me a little bit on that, what do you think about the communique and also any feedback that you've got from the leaders today?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, I'll particularly ask Angus to speak on that point. But the feedback we got today is that they understand the technologies needs because technology is the only thing that is going to see broad based emissions reduction across all economies. It's not enough for developed economies in the North Atlantic, it has to be for developing economies in the Indo-Pacific. If that's not achieved well, we're not making any progress. And so the if and by when, those issues are done, how is what it now needs to be about. I think COP26 hopefully is an inflection point where we move from the if to the how. And if we focus on how, just like the world focused on getting a vaccine for COVID, then we can solve this and we can solve it without taking people's jobs, without putting up their cost of living and without saying to people in developing countries that you can't have a higher standard of living. Angus.

THE HON. ANGUS TAYLOR MP, MINISTER FOR INDUSTRY, ENERGY AND EMISSIONS REDUCTION: Well, it's very clear from the meeting we just had [inaudible] leaders from the South Pacific, that they want to see solutions and outcomes, and that's what counts at the end of the day. And technology provides the pathway to those solutions and outcomes. So what we've laid out in terms of getting the cost of those technologies to a point where they bring down the cost of electricity and energy, they support competitive industry, that's what they want to see. That's what we want to see. And that's the solution to this problem. So world-wide, we have to focus on those outcomes, getting the cost of hydrogen under $2 a [inaudible], getting the ultra low cost solar down to 1.5 cents a [inaudible]. They're the outcomes, and I think leaders of the South Pacific fully understand and be able to deliver what they need, which is a global solution here, not just [inaudible].

JOURNALIST: Did they express any anxiety or fear that it could take too long, that, you know, by the time we get to that technology, by the time we get to those solutions that it is too late for their nations?

THE HON. ANGUS TAYLOR MP, MINISTER FOR INDUSTRY, ENERGY AND EMISSIONS REDUCTION: Well, I mean, the point about this plan is we've laid out the timelines to get to those outcomes very clearly. We knew what the outcomes we needed were back in September last year when we put out a technology investment roadmap. What we've laid out in this plan is the timelines to get there for each of those technologies and those timelines are important because that gets us to net zero by 2050 with a reduction in time between now and then that keeps emissions coming down.

PRIME MINISTER: One of the things I find, every time I get the opportunity to engage with Pacific Island leaders, but even at the G20, is when I'm able to share with them what Australia has actually achieved. It often surprises them that we have achieved 20.8 per cent reduction in emissions, that we do have the highest rate of rooftop solar in the world. That on emissions intensity for carbon emissions reduction in the G20, Australia is second only to the United Kingdom, and that our installation of renewable energy into our system is eight times the global average and three times some of the most advanced economies in Europe. And so when we share this information with our Pacific family, they're very encouraged by that because that's not the story that's often told to them. And when I can share with that them directly, they're very encouraged. The fact that we're already 20 per cent down on our emissions from 2005 is something that they welcome very, very much because it is far in excess of other countries they deal with just like Australia.

JOURNALIST: And given it has gone so well, would you walk away from COP26 with the 2030 target, a higher 2030 target in your mind? 

PRIME MINISTER: Well, we will achieve, we believe, a 35 percent reduction in emissions by 2030 and that will significantly outstrip the commitments that we've made of 26 to 28 percent. But that 26 to 28 percent is a commitment I made with the Australian people. That's what I took to an election, and we always saw that as a floor, not a ceiling. And we've demonstrated that, just like we have on Kyoto one and Kyoto two. What we need people to sign on to is the technologies that reduce emissions. And I can assure you, developing countries, whether they be in India, discussions I've had with Prime Minister Modi or indeed with Vietnam, who I am meeting with while we're here, or Indonesia, where I met with President Widodo. They will sign on to a low emissions technology if they're cost competitive with what they're currently using. And that is the solve. That is the problem we have to solve. And that's where we need the world's focus to shift to. How. Thank you.