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The Hon Peter Garrett AM MP
Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts

Earth Hour; Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme; Copenhagen meeting; renewable energy target

Doorstop interview, Westin Hotel, Melbourne
28 March 2009

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GARRETT: Thanks for coming down on the eve of Earth Hour when we are going to see 100 per cent registration from the Commonwealth Government of over 120 Government agencies and buildings. Weve got the War Memorial, the High Court, the Parliament House, Casey Station in the Antarctic, embassies all around the world, all switching off their lights for Earth Hour. Earth Hour is important because it tells us that from simple things we can produce very, very big results into the future. And it is fantastic to see the way in which cities around Australia have put their hands to be a part of Earth Hour.

Tonight, Ill be participating in a special Earth Hour concert at Federation Square in Melbourne. There are events in the other cities as well. And for Australians who care about energy efficiency and care about the impact the their lighting is having on our environment, what a simple thing to do, join in with Earth Hour, switch off the lights and make a big difference.

I have got to say that the result we have seen from Government departments has been exemplary. We want to provide a strong and positive message to people that getting involved in Earth Hour actually can make a difference and send a signal down your street, through your suburb or around your city that turning off the lights for the Earth for an hour is a good thing to do.

Traditionally, we know that the benefits of energy efficiency of changing the globe and having energy efficiency lighting in your home is really considerable. Youll save money and you will put less of a burden on the environment as well because we will have to produce electricity and yet we can still adequately provide the lighting for our homes and schools and our workplaces.

So, what a great result to have 100 per cent registration from Commonwealth Government departments and agencies with embassies around the world, buildings in the nations capital and even with the Casey Station in the Antarctic all switching off their lights for Earth Hour, I think this is going to be the biggest and best Earth Hour weve seen.

JOURNALIST: The event has been criticised of being just symbolic. Does Earth Hour really make a difference?

GARRETT: Earth Hour does make a difference because it is a reminder of the simple action that we can all take whether were individuals, families or governments to make a difference. That is what Earth Hour is all about.

JOURNALIST: Obviously the event has a lot of public support, is it something you can see building?

GARRETT: Yeah look I reckon it will. And look at the Super Group that is going to be performing here in Melbourne at Fed Square tonight Nic Cester, Chris Cheney, Kram from Spiderbait, Renee Geyer, Paris Wells - musicians who have come down and not only have they come down to perform with the Super Group but we have had dozens and dozens of people riding pushbikes for a thousand hours to provide the energy for this rock concert so that it is actually produced by the great enthusiasm that people of this city have for actually doing something like getting involved in Earth Hour.

JOURNALIST: So looking at that public support what does it mean for the Governments emissions reductions target which has been criticised for being too low?

GARRETT: Look, the Governments Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme aims to reduce emissions effectively at low cost. As well as that we are rolling out a series of absolutely critical complimentary measures including energy efficiency. Look at the roll-out of ceiling insulation – some 2.7 million Australian households to produce some significant cost savings and reducing carbon pollution as well. These are measures that the Government will continue to bring forward but we have all got a role to play here and I think that Australians recognise that. They have an opportunity to do something on Earth Hour. Switching off the lights is simple. Having dinner by candlelight could be good fun.

JOURNALIST: And the meeting in Copenhagen, what are the critical decisions that you think that need to be made there.

GARRETT: Look the Copenhagen meeting will be an important one because the world will come to a landing point on the future path of emissions reduction. Obviously that will be a matter of significant and substantial debate but what we do know is that by bringing forward a Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme we have a price for carbon in the market, we do know as well that by producing a whole series of opportunities in areas like energy efficiency particularly at the household level, then we can start to get on with the job of reducing our emissions and reducing our energy costs at the same time.

JOURNALIST: Do you think it is possible to get a new deal on climate change?

GARRETT: Well, look, lets wait and see. We have to go into these meetings committed to fulfil and ensuring that we get on the pathway to reducing emissions.

JOURNALIST: And how realistic or easy is it to move from coal to alternative energy.

GARRETT: Look there is always going to be a role for the provision of our current electricity by coal, thats obviously a substantial part of the provision for Australian consumers at this point in time. We have a 20 per cent renewable energy target commitment. We want to see a significant uptake by renewable sources solar, wind wave, geothermal by providing for a renewable energy target [inaudible] those renewable energy sources that will play an important tole the future.

JOURNALIST: And what is your role at Earth Hour tonight.

GARRETT: Im looking forward to introducing the Super Group, having the opportunity to meet with the performers who have come down to provide their services and to perform for people there in Fed Square on Earth Hour

JOURNALIST: And are you yourself going to get behind the mic and sing.

GARRETT: Now I had every opportunity at the Sound Relief concert. It was a tremendous occasion and the energy of the crowd and the commitment that the audience had at that event was something which was very special to me. For tonight, I will be introducing performers and I am looking forward to doing that.


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