Climate | Environment | Emissions Reduction

Australia will work with China and US on cutting emissions

Australia will work with major economies including the US and China to reduce carbon emissions, Federal Environment Minister, the Hon. Greg Hunt has told a CEDA renewables forum in Melbourne.

"Next year is the Paris 2015 conference (United Nations climate change conference), that means that at the end of the year we are working towards a global agreement," he said.

Given the International Energy Agency's warnings about the urgent need to reduce emissions, it is expected a new global accord on emissions will be brokered at the United Nations climate talks in Paris.

The Federal Government supports a global agreement and Australia will play an important role at the conference, he said.

"I want us to be part of that and I do want a big global agreement because that is the best chance for the world," he said.

Mr Hunt said China and the US are open to cutting emissions and to the idea of an agreement such as the Copenhagen Accord.

"I do think we may well get an agreement which is of the pledge and review type," he said.

However, it is unlikely either country will implement legally binding policies because of domestic reasons, such as the US Senate system, he said.

On the environmental impact of climate change, Mr Hunt said his biggest concern is ocean acidification which causes coral bleaching.

"I think the ocean acidification issue is the one which has a risk for deep systemic collapse…it's a fundamental challenge," he said.

Mr Hunt also said he is committed to the Renewable Energy Target (RET) and is confident Australia will achieve its five per cent emissions reduction target.

"My commitment remains to the target, I think it's a very important mechanism and what we want to constructively do is to get there," he said.

The RET and the Emissions Refund Fund are both important parts of the renewables policy. 

"The Renewable Energy Target is one part, and the Emissions Reduction Fund is another important part, they are complementary measures," he said.

Mr Hunt also said balance needs to be achieved between the energy and renewables sectors.

"I am completely engaged in working to ensure that the long term future of renewables in Australia is both bright and sustainable," he said.

"Frankly we would not have gotten a renewable energy target extension in 2009 without…the direct engagement from the aluminium sector."

Other speakers at this event included:

  • Mike Clearly, Chief Operating Officer, Australian Energy Market Operator
  • Stephen Davy, Chief Executive Officer, Hydro Tasmania
  • Tim Nelson, Head of Economic Policy and Sustainability, AGL Energy
  • Greg Bourne, Chair, Australian Renewable Energy Agency
  • Miles George, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Infigen Energy
  • Andrew Thomson, Managing Director, Acciona Energy