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Interview with Peter Stefanovic, Sky

21 April 2021

Interviewer: 
Peter Stefanovic

Subject: Emissions reduction, energy, hydrogen, carbon capture and storage

E&OE

PETER STEFANOVIC:    Two and a half thousand jobs are set to be created under new investments in clean hydrogen and carbon capture technologies. The Morrison Government will announce a pre-budget cash splash before attending a two-day virtual summit on climate change hosted by Joe Biden. So the $540 million boost, it's going to be divided into two major projects to further drive down emissions. Strategy will accelerate four hydrogen hubs in regional Australia and implement a clean hydrogen certification scheme. The other half of the money will support the development of carbon capture and storage innovation. Well, let's bring in the Energy Minister, Angus Taylor now. Minister, thanks for joining us as always. Pretty big investment, this one. But when will we start to see jobs?

ANGUS TAYLOR:    We're already starting to see jobs emerging in the hydrogen sector and in carbon capture and storage. We've got the biggest carbon capture and storage project in the world. We've got hydrogen projects growing fast. We've got the first exports of liquid hydrogen in the world happening in Australia this year. But this is a big vote of confidence in the potential of both hydrogen, and carbon capture and storage. $539 million in regional communities. 2,500 jobs in regional communities, as you said, Pete. And this is practical action. It is technology, not taxes. This is how you get emissions down, strengthen the economy, create export opportunities and create jobs at the same time. We are absolutely committed to ensuring that those additional four hydrogen hubs, the carbon capture and storage projects, are projects that will deliver that reduction in emissions, but strengthening our energy systems and strengthening our exports and jobs at the same time.

PETER STEFANOVIC:    By funding carbon capture and storage, though, aren't you just funding the fossil fuel industry? So therefore, it's actually not much climate ambition?

ANGUS TAYLOR:    We don't take an ideological approach to this, to say that there are good industries and bad industries. We want more industries in Australia, not less. We're focussed on innovation, not elimination. Now, carbon capture and storage is one of the great opportunities to bring down emissions and maintain a strong, healthy, affordable energy system in this country and maintain our energy exports. The contrast is Labor's approach, where you've got Chris Bowen going into coal communities saying they're going to cut the cord, they're going to cut the cord, they're going to eliminate these coal communities and they have no future. Well, we see a great future for our regional mining communities, for the gas industry, for the coal industry, but also for the renewables sector. And it's the balance across these sectors and the use of technologies to maintain that balance that will bring down our energy costs and create jobs. That's our focus. That's the way we're going to do it. Carbon capture and storage is an important part of that mix and that balance.

PETER STEFANOVIC:    Well, when Labor announced its hydrogen plan a couple of years ago, your government referred to it as ‘snake oil.’

ANGUS TAYLOR:    Well, that's not correct. There was a tweet from Matt Canavan where he said it's a very exciting industry and has enormous potential. Labor misquotes these things, they like to do that. But this is the Labor Party that's going into coal communities right now saying that they're going to cut the cord. They really need to take a good, hard look at their policies if they're going to shut down industries, shut down regions and shut off jobs for Australians. 

PETER STEFANOVIC:    Okay. 

ANGUS TAYLOR:    That's not our focus. Our focus is on creating jobs, Pete, and we'll do that every day of the week.

PETER STEFANOVIC:    Minister, the UK overnight pledged an emissions reduction target of 78 per cent of 1990 levels, and that's to be met by 2035. So that's very ambitious. Does that put more pressure on us to officially commit to 2050 in the lead-up to Joe Biden's conference this week?

ANGUS TAYLOR:    Well, we want to get to net zero and we want to do it by 2050. We’ve made no bones about that.

PETER STEFANOVIC:    But we haven't officially committed yet.

ANGUS TAYLOR:    The real challenge, Pete, the real challenge here is how to do it. And Australia has an extraordinary track record on reducing emissions. We're 19 per cent down on the 2005 baseline already. We are well on our way to our targets. We'll meet and beat our targets. Our targets are not a cap on our aspirations, they're a floor on our aspirations. So we'll continue to do that. But I'll tell you what we're not going to do, we're not going to destroy jobs. We're not going to cut the cord on regional communities. We're not going to shut down industries. We're going to use technology to focus on innovating. This is all about creating jobs, not eliminating them, Pete. And that's the focus we'll continue to have every day of the week.

PETER STEFANOVIC:    Okay. Now we've got these comments that have come from the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Minister. He seemed to send a stark warning to other nations on climate. I just want to play this for you. Here he was:

[Excerpt]

ANTONY BLINKEN – US SECRETARY OF STATE:    Our diplomats will challenge the practises of countries whose action or inaction is setting the world back. When countries continue to rely on coal for a significant amount of their energy, or invest in new coal factories, or allow for massive deforestation, they will hear from the United States and our partners.

[End of excerpt]

PETER STEFANOVIC:    So what are you expecting to hear from the US and their partners, Minister, when it comes to us investing in coal?

ANGUS TAYLOR:    Well, the goal here is to bring down emissions. Let's be clear about that. And the United States has actually done reasonably well since 2005. But we've done better. And we've done better than most nations around the world. We've got one in four houses with household solar, a record level, the highest level in the world. I mean, our track record and our delivery on this is very strong, including in comparison to the United States and so many other countries. We'll continue to deliver. 

PETER STEFANOVIC:    Yeah. 

ANGUS TAYLOR:    Now, the United States makes a very good point, which is that we've seen an enormous amount of investment in new coal in China, and emissions growing in China and other developing countries. And resolving the issues of how to bring down emissions in developing countries is a hugely important issue and one that needs to be embraced because at the end of the day, countries like Australia can reduce their emissions, but we're 1.3 per cent of the global total. So we need to see developing countries like China playing an important role in all of this, and the United States has made that very clear.     

PETER STEFANOVIC:    Okay. Energy Minister Angus Taylor, we're out of time. Appreciate your time this morning, though. Thanks for joining us, as always.

ANGUS TAYLOR:    Good on you, Pete.

ENDS