Interview with David Bevan, ABC Radio Adelaide Mornings

David Bevan
Net zero carbon emissions

David Bevan: Tim Wilson is the Assistant Minister to the Minister for Industry, Energy and Emissions Reduction, and he joins us now. Good morning, Minister Wilson.

Tim Wilson: Good morning.

David Bevan: Minister, after years of mocking the renewable sector and technological solutions, do you think it's significant, the Coalition is now leaning heavily on technology to achieve your emissions targets?

Tim Wilson: Well, I don't accept the basis of your question. We've always seen technology is the solution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, but we also recognize that different technologies have limitations. All of them do. You know, traditional fuels have limitations because they emit greenhouse gas emission? Some renewables have intermittency issues. So what we've always focused on is how do we utilize technology to cut greenhouse gas emissions, build the future of the Australian economy? And of course, what we know is the costs are going down. And that's what's making them more viable. You just need to look at solar, which is reduced in cost 10 per cent every year for the past 20 years. And that's why one in four households are taking it up. It's not because just because they want to do something for the planet, it's good economics, too.

David Bevan: Well, two years ago, your Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, said Labor's electric vehicle target would end the weekend. Well, that's evidence.

Tim Wilson: Is there a question?

David Bevan: No. Well, that's you said we weren't mocking renewable technology. There's there's evidence of that then.

Tim Wilson: That's not evidence of it. It's the challenge of forcing into the market technology.

David Bevan: Well, he well, here's another example the coalition mocked the Tesla big battery, comparing it to the big banana or the big prawn. There's another example of mocking technology, and now it's it's the basis of your plan.

Tim Wilson: So I'm actually going to answer the question before you interrupt me again, which is firstly, we don't believe in pushing and technology to the marketplace that will make households poorer before it's economically viable. And that's why if you just look back even three or four years, if you bought an electric vehicle, they cost around $300000. Today, they're now towards 50 to $60000. So we absolutely believe that we should work with technology as it progresses to make sure that we can reduce greenhouse gas emissions, not impose taxes that increase the cost on households. And, of course, make sure we're building the future of the Australian economy and we don't. One of the things we don't want is an electricity grid that gets all of its puts, all of its chips on one technology, because when you do, you leave yourself exposed to risk. This is what's happening in the northern Europe right now. Where they've been heavily on gas is a technology that had massive shortages, and it means that during the cold winters, many people are going to go without heating and be exposed to serious health consequences as a result. We want diversified solutions, and we're proud of that.

David Bevan: Is it fair to say that what you've done and it's quite an achievement, but what what you've done to be quite clear is to get the coalition to an agreed goal that is Net Zero by 2050, but you haven't produced any new policies on how to achieve it.

Tim Wilson: No, that's false. So firstly, there's a lot of things that are new from yesterday. Firstly, there's the target of net zero, secondly the time frame by 2050. Third is the plan, which comprehensively goes through the first Australian economy wide plan on how to achieve Net Zero by 2050. And then it includes new technologies and a new focus on things like ultra low cost solar PV. As part of that solution. And the Prime Minister has made it clear yesterday, and he's right. There is more to come and we're going to continue to outline, including in Glasgow, the conference next week and beyond. How in transport fuels and everything else, we're going to be delivering the solutions that Australia needs.

David Bevan: So it's been reported this morning and quoting from the front page of the Australian, which is hardly an anti-coalition news journal. Mr Morrison said the climate change blueprint, which did not contain any new policies, would be backed by multibillion dollar investments. So even your friends at the Australian are saying it did not contain any new policies.

Tim Wilson: Now, with respect to the Australian, they're wrong. And as I've said, what we've taken in terms of our approach is to build the pillars to build an economy wide plan. So we've got a strategy for the transport sector, the strategy for the building materials sector, a strategy for electricity. We've built a plan on pillars that will give it good foundations. And then of course, there's a new focus in yesterday's plan around certain technologies, particularly ultra low solar PV. But there will be further announcements off the back of, or builds of strong foundations, which has been our approach because we want to take the Australian community with us with this plan. Because what we've seen too often is in the absence of a comprehensive economy wide plan, the only solution that people put forward is higher taxes, which punish households.

Ali Clarke: How important is taking the international community, along with Australia's plan and regaining some of our standing in the international world on our views on climate?

Tim Wilson: It's incredibly, it's incredibly important, but the other part of it is about outcomes. The OECD average for emission cuts since 2005 is 7% seven per cent. Australia has already achieved, 21% so three times the OECD average. And one of the critical things in yesterday's plans that is new is the upgraded trajectory that we're going to hit emission reductions of up to 35% by 2030. So we're actually scaling up what we can achieve.

Ali Clarke: Okay, we have to leave it there. Assistant Minister to the Minister for Industry, Energy and Emissions Reduction, Tim Wilson. Thank you.

Tim Wilson: Thank you so much for having me.