Opinion piece by Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison.
Australians want action on climate change. And so do I.
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.
Only the Liberals and the Nationals working together can be trusted to get this balance right.
We understand the threats faced but also the opportunities that can be realised.
There have been few issues more challenging for the Liberals and Nationals during the past twenty 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 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 be making a commitment 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 other countries.
And we will invest in rural and regional Australia to ensure they succeed and are protected under our plan.
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 United States. 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. The Australian Way is all about how you do it, and not if you do it. It’s about getting it done.
We will also 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. That’s the Australian way.
The path to net zero is also not a straight line. In fact, as Bill Gates argues, forcing outcomes by 2030 with unrealistic targets 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 them.
Key to this approach is investment in new energy technologies, like hydrogen and low cost Solar, to ensure our manufacturing, resources, agricultural and transport sectors can secure their future, especially in rural and regional areas.
These technologies are set out in our Technology Investment Roadmap.
We want our heavy industries, like mining, to stay open, remain competitive and adapt, so they remain viable for as long as global demand allows. Our plan is not about shutting anything down.
We will not support any mandate – domestic or international – to force closure of our resources or agricultural industries.
We have taken the time to deal with the hard issues that need to be confronted to get it right. We have listened carefully and understand both the concerns and the strong aspirations that Australians have when it comes to dealing with climate change.
At the end of the day it all comes down to whether you have a credible plan to get the job done. It’s no longer about the ‘if’, but the ‘how’, and Australians can always trust the Coalition to have the right economic plan to enable Australia to deal with the challenge of climate change.