Doorstop, Parliament House

Doorstop interview
Emissions targets, COP26

ANGUS TAYLOR: Good morning. Yesterday we announced a practical, responsible plan to reduce emissions through to 2050. A plan to achieve net zero by 2050. A plan that is focussed on making sure that we support our traditional industries, creating opportunities for those industries at a time where good policy will be great for those industries, bad policy has the potential to do real damage to them. This is good policy. It's a focus on technology, not taxes. Focus on bringing down the cost of low emissions technologies, rather than raising the cost of traditional fuel sources. It respects the Australian people, respects their choices. Choices they've been making. One in four Australians, the highest level in the world, with household solar on their roofs. It recognises that affordable, reliable energy is central to our competitive advantage, particularly in today's commodity export industries that are so essential to Australia. It recognises the transparency Australia has always had in the way it's approached this. Every sector, every gas, every quarter we have reported and have reported for years, leading the world in our transparency on emission reductions. It also recognises our achievements - 20.8 per cent down since 2005, on track to achieve up to 35 per cent reductions by 2030 with the support of the Technology Investment Roadmap. That's better than New Zealand, better than Canada, the two other big developed countries who are commodity exporters. Better than the United States, Japan, the OECD average. And certainly much better than we're seeing in the developing world, in countries like India or China, where emissions have risen to over 70 per cent at the same time as ours have come down by 20.8 per cent. I strongly encourage you to read the 128 pages of the plan which lays out very clearly how technology and how technology targets across each of our priority technologies, can drive emissions down in a way which is consistent with Australian values, with Australian choices, with trusting the Australian people to make those choices just as they have in the past. 

JOURNALIST: Minister, in your 128-page report, there's a section that says Australia can get to in a range of 2050 with a voluntary incentive of less than $25 a tonne of CO2. Is that a carbon tax?

ANGUS TAYLOR: No. That’s an incentive. We're focussed on incentives, not penalties. Look, the way-

JOURNALIST: Well who, who is going to pay that then? 

ANGUS TAYLOR: Well, we already have it. We've got the Emissions Reduction Fund, we've had for many years. And over time we're seeing already that moving to being a voluntary market, where major corporates who have made commitments to reduce their emissions voluntarily buy credits alongside the credits that we, as the Federal Government, buy. We'll see that voluntary market continue to grow. Its incentives, not penalties. This is the way forward. As I say, the key to this is bringing down the cost of low emissions technologies, rather than raising the cost of traditional technologies. Now, if you raise the cost of traditional fuel sources, those least able to afford it pay the price. Those industries that have been the traditional backbone of this country are the ones that suffer. We've seen it before. When the carbon tax went into place in this country, one in eight manufacturing jobs was destroyed. It's only now we're getting back to more than a million people in Australia working in manufacturing. So this is the way forward.

JOURNALIST: That $25 though, is that already budgeted? Has the Government already-

ANGUS TAYLOR: We've got the Emissions Reduction Fund. We announced $2 billion for the Climate Solutions Fund before the last election, and we continue to support the Emissions Reduction Fund and the Climate Solutions Fund. And in particular, we're broadening out the methodologies that can get access to those credits. We've got a below safeguard credits mechanism reforms that we've announced. The Grant King Review, the King Review laid out how we can do this. We've established a new methodology for carbon capture and storage. We're changing the methodology and making it more usable for farmers, for regenerating their soils and carrying more carbon in their soils - 90 million hectares of productive agricultural land, which is one of the biggest carbon sinks in the world. We've got to use it, we've got to use it better, and that will make farmers more productive. So this is the Emissions Reduction Fund, that's already doing this. It's a crucial reform. It's widely respected across the world, high-quality, high-integrity credits. We're using it. And the price we have in the modelling is in line with what credits have been purchased for in recent, in recent times. 

JOURNALIST: Criticisms from people like Mike Cannon-Brookes, that this plan is filled with inaction and misdirection. What do you say to that? And is there more details to come in this plan? Or is this it? The 128 pages, that's the plan? Or no? 

ANGUS TAYLOR: There's no tax. And many people, the critics out there, they're the same old ones, they've been arguing for a carbon tax for years and years and years, and every time they talk about policy in this area, they just want to see a tax. And anything that's not a tax is not a policy as far as they're concerned. Well, that's not how we see it. We trust the Australian people that as the cost of low emissions technologies come down, they will deploy those technologies. They're doing it. Drive around the suburbs of our cities and look at the solar on the roofs, one in four Australians, highest in the world. That's a technology, by the way, which was developed, much of the development behind our modern solar PV cells done here in Australia - the University in New South Wales led the way. Extraordinary Australian achievement. Coming down in cost 12 per cent a year, year on year on year for 50 years. Ninety per cent of the deployment of solar in the world has been in the last 10 years, because it gets to cost competitiveness and away it goes. You've got to trust people to do this. They will. They will. But our job, our job is to make those significant investments in the technology portfolio we've laid out very clearly. We first laid out the first version of this back in September last year, and we've added to it. Ultra-low cost solar is one of the additional technologies we've laid out with a target of $15 a megawatt hour. We think we can get there. That's how you do it. And that means trusting the Australian people, not imposing taxes, not making their lives more expensive. That's our approach. 

JOURNALIST: Minister, two Torres Strait Islanders are suing the Commonwealth for not doing enough on climate change because they argue the Commonwealth has a duty of care to protect the Torres Strait Islanders. What's your reaction to this? And are you concerned? Are you prepared for more class actions to be filed?

ANGUS TAYLOR: Well, I've heard about this action overnight and I'm not going to comment on legal action.

JOURNALIST: Most of the technologies in this plan aren't even developed yet. Are you betting this commitment to net zero on a wing and a prayer?

ANGUS TAYLOR: Well, that's not right. So, let's go through them. Hydrogen, we're a big producer of hydrogen today. We need to use it more broadly. New applications in transport. More broadly in industry. You know, the food we eat every day, it's made because of hydrogen. Hydrogen supplies the nitrogen fertiliser that grows the crops across Australia and across the world. We already make it. We're a big producer. Go to Newcastle, we're a huge producer. Stored Energy, Snowy 2.0. I can go through each one of those- 

JOURNALIST: [Interrupts] Okay. But the 30 per cent in global future technology is what you're relying on.

ANGUS TAYLOR: No, well, you asked the question, it's really important that people understand. These are technologies that are happening today. Solar, one of our priority technologies - we've led the world, we have led the world. And soil carbon - farmers have been adding carbon into their soils by improving their soils, regenerating their country, regenerating the soils for a long time. What we haven't done is measured it as carefully as we needed to, and then recognise the role that's playing in bringing down carbon emissions. So, each of these technologies is already there. The priority technologies are the ones where we know there's pathways, we know they're being deployed now, we can do lots more of them. And we've got to bring down the costs in order to make sure that people do choose those technologies and bring down emissions in the process. 

JOURNALIST: Minister, do you personally support this plan to require voters to show ID at the polls that went through the Party Room yesterday? The Australian Electoral Commission says there's virtually no problem with misrepresentation, tiny amount in all the elections that they've looked at in the past. Isn't this voter suppression US style? 

ANGUS TAYLOR: Look, I'm going to leave that one to the relevant Minister. 

JOURNALIST: What's your view, though? 

ANGUS TAYLOR: I'm going to leave that one. 

JOURNALIST: It went through the party room yesterday. 

ANGUS TAYLOR: Sorry, I wasn't in the party room yesterday. I was doing a press conference, so I'll leave that one.

JOURNALIST: If you were serious about net zero, why not legislate it?

ANGUS TAYLOR: Well, you know, we were serious about getting to the Kyoto targets and we met and beat those Kyoto targets without legislation. We're serious about getting to the Paris targets that we have and meeting and beating those Paris targets, and we're doing it without legislation. Those who want legislation want a blank cheque, and typically, they want a carbon tax, they want a carbon tax. And that is not how we're doing it. Now, we trust the Australian people. We don't write blank checks. We've laid out a pathway forward that respects their choices, respects the fact that Australian engineers and entrepreneurs have been developing great technologies and deploying them around this country for many, many years. That's our pathway forward. It's a pathway forward which we know is consistent with Australian values and the Australian way. And it's working. The runs are on the scoreboard.

JOURNALIST: Does leaving it unlegislated open the door for people like Matt Canavan to argue that all this can be very easily unwound by a future Coalition government? 

ANGUS TAYLOR: Well, you know, at the end of the day, we've delivered and we've delivered consistently since we've been in Government. There's always been debate about getting climate policy right - there should be, it's important because people's lives and livelihoods depend on the policy being right - but we've, we've delivered that policy consistently in a way that has delivered a 20.8 per cent reduction since 2005. Better than many of our peer countries. We're on track to meet and beat our Paris targets, to reach up to 35 per cent reduction since 2005. That's a great track record, a track record all Australians can be proud of. Our role in bringing down global emissions is important. Our achievements are very real. They're transparent, they're clear, and we're going to keep moving in exactly the same direction.