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Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Dr David Kemp
18 November 2002
Labor's split over greenhouse policy was underlined again today with the announcement by NSW Premier Bob Carr of an expert panel to lobby the Federal government to change its policy of declining to ratify the Kyoto protocol now.
As Queensland's Labor Premier, Peter Beattie has pointed out: "There is only one state in Australia that would be advantaged economically by the Kyoto protocols and that's New South Wales. … The rest of us are disadvantaged."
Press conference, 16/09/02
Western Australia's Labor Premier, Geoff Gallup agrees: "I am not happy about the Commonwealth just signing up ... we shouldn't sign it until all of the states and territories have been properly involved in the process so we're not disadvantaged."
WA Premier Geoff Gallop, Australian Financial Review, 18/09/02
The Howard government has already published two expert reports on the costs of ratifying the Kyoto protocol and has concluded that the long term costs of ratification outweigh the short term benefits to companies like Professor Hewson's.
It should be understood that the argument about ratification is NOT about cutting greenhouse gases. The Federal government is already committed to meeting Australia's Kyoto target and has committed $1 billion to abatement programmes. The argument for ratification at the present time is now a purely economic one.
States like Queensland and Western Australia oppose ratification because they know that long term investment in their resource-rich economies will be threatened by ratification. If Australia accepts legal obligations that are not shared by our competitors in developing countries, (which are not accepting Kyoto commitments), that is as good as exporting Australian jobs and industry.
It could also have the paradoxical effect of increasing global greenhouse gas emissions if sophisticated resource processing operating under strict environmental controls in Australia shifts offshore to less rigorous regulatory environments.
The Kyoto Protocol is flawed because it will only deliver 1% cuts in global greenhouse gas emissions when science warns the world needs to 50% to 60% cuts by the end of the century.
This is because the Kyoto Protocol does not require greenhouse reductions from developing countries, which will soon be producing more than half the world's greenhouse gases.Unlike Simon Crean and Premier Carr, the Howard government is not going to export Australian jobs and industry for the sake of an easy political gesture.
Reporter: "That's what John Howard is arguing as well."
Beattie: "Yeah, yeah sure. Well, it's true. I mean, I'm just telling what the truth is."
Catherine Job (02) 6277 7640 or 0408 648 400
Executive Building Brisbane
1.53 pm, 16th September, 2002.
(Indistinct) Do you think that there's anything that Queensland can do for, you know, the carbon credits and that sort of thing?
Well, I don't quite know what Bob's statement means in practical terms for us and I'd need to explore that. There are two states that are going to be severely di... well, sorry. Let's put this in context. There is only one state in Australia that would be advantaged economically by the Kyoto protocols and that's New South Wales. That's the reality. That's what I'm briefed. There is only one state who would have a net gain. They would benefit.
Other states like Queensland, Western Australia and I think all the other states; and I'm not sure about Victoria, I think Victoria's marginal between ... it's probably almost neutral in Victoria, but the rest of us are disadvantaged. Now, we are making change here. This is one of the reasons. The Kyoto protocols were one of the reasons why we've brought in a fifteen per cent gas component for our generation, from the first of January 2005. I'm sorry, it's thirteen per cent natural gas, two per cent renewables and the two per cent renewables are important but it still comes to fifteen per cent, Kim (ph.sp.).
So we are gradually making the transition. What we want to try and do in terms of carbon credits, obviously we want to get advantage. We've talked, as part of the Regional Forest Agreement with planting timbers on crown land. Yes, we want to get carbon credit arrangements and we are working on a regime and looking at it now. But no-one should be under any illusions. We need time to progress to it.
Look, I'd love to see the Kyoto protocols come in but I know in the short term Queensland would be disadvantaged. All we've asked for is some time to get our house in order. We're doing that. The coal industry here , to their credit, were reasonably supportive. There was some criticism, but reasonably supportive of a fifteen per cent and renewables component.
The other thing that's happening here, though, is that the clean coal technology which is being pursued here is being pursued in a very significant way so that coal is not the pollutant that it used to be. So we are making significant changes here. Yes, I'm keen ... I'm very keen to get a carbon trading arrangement in place. But I say this with great courtesy: Bob Carr's a good mate of mine, but I can understand why Bob's in the luxurious position to say that. His state's the only one that benefits.
So you agree with John Howard's decision not to sign the protocol at this stage?
Oh look, that's a matter for the federal government. If they sign the ...
You're saying it would be (indistinct) in the short term ...
Yeah, if ...
... and that's what John Howard is arguing as well.
Yeah, yeah, sure. Well, it's true. I mean, I'm just telling what the truth is. If he signed now, and that's a matter for the federal government, if they want to sign now that's fine, but there should be some arrangement put in place to protect Queensland's position and Western Australia's position. And again look, I'm not trying to be cute here, if the government had done nothing to improve our greenhouse gas emission issues then we could be criticised.
The fact is we've made the momentous and very significant decision to introduce a component of natural gas and renewables into our energy generating market. Bearing in mind we've got the highest quality and cheapest coal in the world right here and we've bit the bullet to do that. And we want some time to make sure that we can reach those goals. In the end, in the end Australia has to meet the Kyoto protocols but we need time, and that's what we're working on. We haven't sat on our bums, we've actually done something and we need time to have it implemented.
As I said, I understand Bob's position but he is the only Australian premier that wins from it, and that's fine. If I was in that position I'd be out there grandstanding as well.
End of Segment