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Pat Conaghan MP

STATEMENT: CLIMATE BILL 2022

The energy and climate debate continues, and today the House of Representatives passed the Bill that enshrines the 43% emissions reduction by 2030 target.

I do not believe that there is anyone who truly does not see a benefit to minimising our potential negative impacts on our environment. No one wants to leave our planet worse off for having had us on it.

To do this effectively, we do need to ensure that we are realistic around our needs as a population and the actual impact to global emissions that changes to providing for these immediate needs will have in the short term.

Australia contributes just 1.3% of total global emissions. We have reduced our emissions faster than many other developed nations, including Canada, Japan and the United States who all contribute significantly more to global emissions than Australia. China alone contributes 27% of current emissions, with no formal plans to curb this.

Our emissions are currently more than 20% down on 2005 levels, while our economy has grown 45% over that very same period. We have already beaten our 2020 targets and were already well on track to over-achieve on our original 2030 targets.

Australia is a country that has enjoyed consistent power supply at a reasonably low cost when compared to other nations.  We have relied predominantly on fossil fuels and technologies that are now becoming outdated to achieve this. We have invested heavily in renewables historically, and more recently in blue and green hydrogen technology.

I do believe the future is in green and blue hydrogen and in all types of renewables, including ones that I am sure we are yet to create. The simple fact is however that nuclear energy must also be put on the table for future consideration, to ensure that we as a country can continue to enjoy consistent power supply at a reasonable cost. We are the only OECD Nation without Nuclear Power, which is quite extraordinary given our new emissions targets.

Renewables are wonderful, but they do have limitations in the fact that they are reliant on weather. They also require significant land mass to create supply at scale. They are not currently recyclable, so outdated models become an issue. To create renewables, mining of cobalt, lithium and tellurium is required. These minerals do not just appear on our doorstep, they do need to be mined.

Currently, we do not have sufficient renewable networks in place to sustain our population. This can be overcome, but we do need time and money to achieve this. In the meantime, our supply is at risk and prices are skyrocketing because we won’t invest in fixing our existing networks in the interim, nor invest in modern nuclear technology that is available to us now.

My problem with the current plan is there is no detail on how, when or where the additional 604,000 jobs promised by Labor will materialise, how costs will be kept low and how power supply will be guaranteed. We’ve been told the jobs will be in ‘the regions’, but have been given no true assurances. Additionally, there are no safeguards currently for our primary producers to ensure that they are not bearing the brunt of the costs when it comes to transitioning. I believe that every country does need to look seriously at transitioning to more efficient energy sources with less negative impact on our environment, but I also believe that this transition needs to be fair, measured and considered.

My focus remains with the regions and ensuring that we secure appropriate concessions for stronger safeguards for regional communities and regional jobs. That is my number one priority, always has been, to ensure that we protect regional and rural Australian jobs, I’ve made no secret of this and will continue to fight for a fair go for the people of Cowper.

 

 

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