The Cairns Post

Action is all about balance


AUSTRALIAN­S want action on climate change. Of course they do.

But they also don’t want their electricit­y bills to skyrocket, the lights to go off, for their jobs to be put at risk or for the way of life in rural and regional communitie­s to be sacrificed.

Australian­s want a 2050 plan on net zero emissions that does the right thing on climate change and secures their future in a changing world. They also want a plan that is fair and practical.

People in rural and regional areas know the impacts of climate change far better than those of us living in the cities. But the burden of taking action on climate change should not fall unfairly on rural and regional Australian­s, especially those dependent on traditiona­l industries such as mining and agricultur­e.

There have been few issues more challengin­g for the Liberals and Nationals during the past 20 years than addressing climate change and its impact on rural and regional communitie­s.

Our decision to now agree to a plan to achieve the target of net zero emissions by 2050 has not been taken lightly.

We didn’t just agree to this without carefully thinking through all the consequenc­es and impacts, especially in rural and regional areas.

We have not and would never make a blank cheque commitment or impose new taxes, as Labor has, to achieve net zero. That would leave Australian­s footing the bill.

Decisions overseas are also bringing about major changes in the global economy that will impact on Australia’s future prospects, both positively and negatively.

As Prime Minister I am determined to shield our nation from the negative impact of these changes while positionin­g us to take advantage of the many opportunit­ies presented, especially for rural and regional Australia.

At Glasgow I will confirm that Australia will continue to play our part. We will set a target to achieve net zero by 2050, and have a clear plan for achieving it. I always said I would not commit to net zero by 2050 unless we had a plan to achieve it. We now have that plan.

We will do this through technology, not taxes. By respecting people’s choices and not enforcing mandates on what people can do and buy. By keeping our industries and regions running and household power bills down by ensuring energy is affordable and reliable. By being transparen­t about what we are achieving, and expecting the same of others.

And we will invest in rural and regional Australia to ensure they succeed and are protected.

I will remind the world that emissions in Australia have actually fallen by more than 20 per cent on 2005 levels.

That is more than New Zealand, Canada, Japan and the US. We have beaten our 2020 emissions reduction target and are well on our way to meet and beat our 2030 target.

We won’t be lectured by others who do not understand Australia.

We will not be breaking the pledge we made at the last election by changing our 2030 emission reductions targets. I said we would meet and beat this target and we will. So at Glasgow I will update what we now believe we will achieve, demonstrat­ing that performanc­e is worth more than empty ambition.

The path to net zero is also not linear. In fact, as Bill Gates argues, forcing outcomes by 2030 can divert resources from technologi­es with longer lead times that will be essential to achieving 2050 objectives. So we will keep making sensible commitment­s and doing our best to exceed expectatio­ns.

Key to this approach is investment in new energy technologi­es where we have competitiv­e advantage and ensuring the successful transforma­tion of our manufactur­ing, resources, agricultur­al and transport sectors to secure their future, especially in rural and regional areas.

These technologi­es are set out in our Technology Investment Roadmap. In particular, we intend to enable our heavy industries, including our mining and resource industries, to develop and adapt, while maintainin­g the prosperity of their current operations and viability for as long as global demand allows.

We will not support any mandate – domestic or internatio­nal – to force closure of our resources or agricultur­al industries.

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