Topics: Plan for net zero; methane emissions; India’s net zero decision;
Journalist: Minister, the reports today that when the PM goes to Glasgow he’s going to reject the methane cuts, is that correct?
Simon Birmingham: Well, Australia accounts for all of the different climate change gases in a unified way. That means we consider CO2, we consider methane and the commitment to net zero incorporates all of those things, according to the rules of the Paris Agreement.
Journalist: Well, Barnaby Joyce has today said that that was one of his demands that was not included. So, can we say that that’s correct?
Simon Birmingham: There are some asking for very short term commitments that would be really harmful to Australia’s dairy industry, to our cattle farmers. What we want to make sure is we achieve net zero by 2050, and that means investing in feed technologies that can reduce methane emissions and we see great potential for that. It’s outlined in the plan the potential of those technologies.
But what we don’t want to see is immediate harm caused to those hard working dairy farmers and cattle farmers across the country.
Journalist: Because if you did make those cuts, what would that mean? Would you have to cull herds? To achieve that by 2030?
Simon Birmingham: Look, some of the extreme proposals would mean that Australia’s dairy farmers, Australia’s cattle farmers, would have to lose production in the short term, potentially cull herds. Now, that’s not acceptable to us. What we want to do is invest and will do is invest in the technological transformation that can be achieved by 2050 to get to net zero, including all aspects of Australian industry, including those methane emissions.
But it’s about finding the right technological solution. There’s some incredible work being led by the CSIRO and other agencies around the potential for algal based feedstock that that could transform emissions and methane emissions from cattle. But there’s a lot of work to do to make sure that is achieved for our farming sector.
Journalist: Just finally, India today says it’s not going to sign up to net zero by 2050. It’s the world’s third largest emitter. Is COP26 actually going to achieve anything if big polluters like that don’t sign up?
Simon Birmingham: This is a real reason why for the globe are technology, not taxes approach is so important. If we can get the breakthroughs in low emissions technologies that are actually cost effective, then countries like India will come on board. What they fear is that they’re just being told to limit their growth, limit their production, and that will just hurt their communities. So we stand there ready to work with all countries in the world to invest in the low emissions technologies to make them affordable. So that not just countries like Australia can reach net zero, but countries like India can see a viable pathway to do so, too.
Authorised by Senator the Hon Simon Birmingham, South Australia.