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

Bureau of Meteorology Annual Climate Statement 2009; Tony Abbott's Climate Change errors

Doorstop Interview, The Domain, Sydney
5 January 2010

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GARRETT: This Annual Climate Statement by the Bureau of Meteorology, showing that in fact Australia is experiencing hotter temperatures, stands in stark contrast to the reported comments of the Opposition Leader, Mr Abbott, that in fact the worlds warming has stopped.

And todays release by the Bureau of Meteorology - showing that 2009 was the second hottest year since records have been kept, that the last 6 months of this year in Victoria, South Australia and New South Wales, are the hottest ever recorded, that the 2009 figures close off the hottest decade ever recorded both in Australia and globally - are in direct contrast to the statements by Mr Abbott as Opposition Leader on climate change.

So today, with these important Bureau of Meteorology figures out, Mr Abbott must face up to the facts, either show us that in fact the experts have got it wrong, or admit that he has got it wrong and all we are seeing is just another series of Tony Abbott climate change clangers on an issue as serious as climate change.

JOURNALIST: Will Labors ETS reduce the climate, the increase in temperature?

GARRETT: The fact is that in order to address dangerous climate change you need to have a price for carbon, you need an emissions trading scheme which puts a hard cap on carbon emissions and a range of complimentary measures as well. But the Opposition are in complete disarray with an Opposition Leader who doesnt believe that climate change is happening, who says that the worlds warming has stopped, and yet today our own weather bureau tells us that in fact the worlds warming is increasing and clearly we need to do something about it now.

JOURNALIST: Will these figures prompt the Government to raise its emissions targets?

GARRETT: Well I think what these figures ought to prompt is a query to the Opposition Leader: is he going to continue to get it wrong on climate change? Is he going to continue to make up figures? Is he going to make glaring factually inaccurate statements and simply not be held to account? Or is he going to finally admit that he is full of climate change doubt, he is full of climate change error and for the Opposition, they dont have a climate change policy at all?

JOURNALIST: But Mr Garrett, the Prime Minister has declared this the most important issue facing the planet yet the Government hasnt been able to pass the ETS legislation. Why doesnt the Government simply call a double dissolution?

GARRETT: You know the Opposition has got to make up its mind on climate change facts and on climate change policy. Until it has done that we have an emissions trading scheme that is waiting to be put into practice and we have a range of policies that we want to bring through to start to deal with climate change.

But how credible is an Opposition on this most important issue at the beginning of 2010 when the Bureau of Meteorology releases its climate statement which shows very clearly that warming is happening and yet only a month ago Mr Abbott has been out on Sydney radio saying that warming has stopped?

JOURNALIST: Will the Government reintroduce the legislation this year?

GARRETT: Well we have always said that we would bring a CPRS back to the Senate and it is up to the Senate and Mr Abbott to recognise that climate change is real, to recognise that for Australians warming is happening, that we, of inhabited continents, are one of the hardest and quickest hit. To recognise, for example, that the bushfire season is going to start earlier and finish later. That we are going to see significant health related fatalities by 2020 because of warming temperatures.

Tony Abbott has got to fess up that he got it wrong in the past on climate change. There is no room for anymore for climate change clangers from the Leader of the Opposition. It is time that he told the truth on climate change and it is time that he had a decent policy on this really important issue.

JOURNALIST: But if these numbers are so critical, what is the Government going to do about it?

GARRETT: Well the Government has a range of measures in place and the Government has brought a Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme that the existing Shadow Minister, Mr Hunt, was a great champion of up until a month and a half ago, and that the former Opposition Leader, Mr Turnbull, said was an absolutely necessary step for this country to take. Many countries are taking the necessary steps, many countries are bringing forward emissions trading schemes, many countries are taking climate change seriously. But if Tony Abbott thinks that climate change isnt happening and that thinks that global warming has stopped, then the Opposition is in a very poor place and he needs to fess up, he has made a number of mistakes, he needs a clean slate on this issue. The Australian public expect decent climate change policy from the Leader of the Opposition. At the moment all they are getting is mistakes and thought bubbles.

JOURNALIST: Do you think you would find it hard to win an election on an ETS when people have to pay for it?

GARRETT: Well the national interest is absolutely key to taking action on climate change. Whether it is intense periods of bushfires, whether it is the impact on our agriculture and commodities sectors, whether it is the impact on the Great Barrier Reef a $5 billion asset employing 60,000 Australians or more - our economic interest, our environment interests, are tied to us taking real action on climate change.

This Governments committed to doing it, but the Opposition Leader doesnt seem to believe it exists and he gets his facts wrong on it every single day, and he is doing the country a great disservice as a consequence.

JOURNALIST: The figures suggest that the increase each decade, since it started in 1910, goes up fairly averagely. There has been no significant hike especially in the last few years. I mean, would those who were around in 1910 are doing the exact same harm as we are in 2009? It is fairly ridiculous isnt it to suggest that we are being just as bad as they were in 1910? Isnt this just what happens with temperature warming?

GARRETT: The decade that we are now departing is the hottest decade in recorded history for Australia and for the globe and the data sets are consistent with the unequivocal scientific view that there is global warming, that it is very likely to be happening as a consequence of human activities, and that it is in our economic and in our environmental interest to arrest it.

JOURNALIST: But would you have expected it to have gone up by a higher margin in recent decades than it has?

GARRETT: Well I think the important thing to recognise here is that very small temperature increases can have significant impacts on our natural environment, on the productivity of landscapes. A 0.9 degree celcius increase over the past 100 years is a significant increase and the projections and the scenarios that the scientists have identified show that it is going to continue in the future and the longer we wait to act, the more expensive it becomes, and the longer we wait to recognise how important and serious this issue is the more we are putting Australians at risk.

So, this is about the Leader of the Opposition. He hasnt had this job for very long, he has made a number of mistakes on climate change since he has been Leader. We now have the Bureau of Meteorology coming out absolutely clearly and identifying this warming trend. Tony Abbott is on record as saying that the worlds warming has stopped. Now either he is going to produce the figures to justify his claim, or he is going to admit that on climate change, again, he got it wrong.

JOURNALIST: So you are saying if in 1910 we had an emissions trading scheme the temperature would not have raised at all?

GARRETT: Look, what I am saying is that on the basis of what we know from, for example, the statement of the Bureau of Meteorology today, it is absolutely clear that Australia has experienced the hottest decade on record, as has the planet.

This is 2010 and we have an Opposition Leader who says that in fact the worlds warming has stopped. Now Mr Abbott cant have it both ways. He cant be a climate change sceptic and throw out comments about climate change which are factually and scientifically incorrect and then claim that he is fit to put himself up as Opposition Leader for the Liberal Party.

This is the time for Mr Abbott to make absolutely clear what his views on climate change really are given that the Bureau of Meteorology, in their statement today, have caught him out and shown him to be absolutely wrong on the facts of a warming world.

Thanks everybody.


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