December 13, 2015



Labor welcomes the ambitious, durable agreement that was struck overnight in Paris, at the end of two pretty grueling weeks of negotiations between the nations of the world.  We recognize that this really is an historic agreement for the first time all the nations of the world have committed to reduce their carbon pollution levels and to update their levels of ambition every five years.


The nations of the world have reaffirmed their commitment to make sure that global warming is kept at less than 2 degrees Celsius and strive to make sure, if possible that global warming doesn’t exceed 1.5 degrees Celsius. And also the nations of the world are looking to make sure we are net zero emissions, so in net terms no carbon pollution going into the atmosphere by the middle of this century.


It is now clear that Malcolm Turnbull’s policies are massively out of step with the rest of the world and are completely inconsistent with the agreement that was struck overnight. We now have Australia in the position of having targets for pollution reduction over the course of the 2020s, that have us well at the back of the pack, we have no five yearly target whatsoever, no target for 2025 and instead of a commitment to net zero emissions by the middle of this century we have a target from this government of net zero emissions by the end of the century. We have a policy that is seeing carbon pollution levels go up, not go down and we have legislation still in the parliament to abolish the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and ARENA and a government withdrawing support entirely for renewable energy after 2020.


Well there is now a clear choice for Malcolm Turnbull, he either sets Australia up to get with the rest of the world and harness the enormous jobs and investment opportunities that come with this agreement, or he keeps Australia shackled to the reactionary legacy of Tony Abbott and his right wing views about climate change and renewable energy, he can’t have it both ways.


If Malcolm Turnbull genuinely wants Australia to be part of this agreement then he must adopt tougher targets to reduce carbon pollution beyond 2020, he must commit to net zero emissions by 2050, he must drop the hopeless Direct Action policy of Tony Abbott and join with Labor in developing an emissions trading scheme. He must drop plans to abolish the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and ARENA, the renewable energy agency, and join with labor in a goal to ensure that 50 per cent of our electricity comes from renewable energy by the end of next decade.


JOURNALIST: We have already seen comments by Julie Bishop this morning saying that we don’t want to break the economy in the process, is that concerning straight off the bat that we are not going to do enough?


BUTLER: My concern is that Julie Bishop and Malcolm Turnbull are mouthing the right words over in Paris but are going to do nothing to ensure that the enormous jobs and investment opportunities that come with this shift to clean energy are enjoyed by Australia, and not just by the rest of the world.


JOURNALIST: What are your thoughts on Greg Hunt’s decision to backflip on wind farms?


BUTLER: It’s all well and good for Greg Hunt to write a different letter to the Clean Energy Finance Corporation but there is still legislation in Parliament to abolish it entirely. So either Greg Hunt and Malcolm Turnbull are going to join with the enormous opportunities in the future, which lie in renewable energy and clean energy or they are going to continue with Tony Abbott’s right wing reactionary policies to abolish the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, to abolish the renewable energy agency (ARENA) and to withdraw support entirely from renewable energy beyond 2020


JOURNALIST: Is it embarrassing for them to backflip like this?


BUTLER: Well it’s a minor backflip, really if he wants to be serious about renewable energy they should withdraw the legislation that is still in the Parliament today to abolish the Clean Energy Finance Corporation all together.


JOURNALIST: What do you think this will mean for new coal mines in Australia?


BUTLER: Well I think what the rest of the world is saying is that they are moving to clean energy. Businesses were in large numbers over at the Paris conference, which I attended, saying that they wanted to move to cleaner ways of operating, we have seen this only in the last few years in countries like America and China and increasingly signals coming out of India through its Energy Minister. Look I think there is a big shift underway which will see cleaner energy systems continue to grow around the world.


JOURNALIST: Should the Government approve any new coal mines?


BUTLER: All mines should be assessed according to the laws in force at the time.