Sky News – Net Zero by 2050


SUBJECTS: COP26; net zero by 2050

PETER STEVANOVIC, HOST: It’s not going to be legislated, the 2050 targets. So in your view, what is that going to say about any confirmed targets?

PETER KHALIL, MEMBER FOR WILLS: Morning Peter, look it’s kind of painful watching. Not that I’m relishing it, and there’s a bit of sarcasm or a voice as an opposition member, but it’s kind of painful watching the Liberals and Nationals thrashing around and all the gyrations and the huffing and puffing in the Nationals party room. And the backflips and somersaults that Scott Morrison is doing just to get to a basic commitment to net zero emissions by 2050. Which pretty much the rest of the world, all of our major partners, obviously Labor has made this commitment and it’s kind of painful, and it’s sad. It’s sad for Australia because we are going to go to Glasgow without really much of a stance or a commitment and really ineffectual, I think would be likely our engagement and our negotiations with the big emitters, which we’ve said, we want to get them to make substantive reductions in emissions. But you can’t do that, if your diplomatic standing point, you have no leverage. If you’re starting from a weak point, and that’s where we are both nationally and internationally.

STEVANOVIC: You get the feeling they will go to Glasgow with or without the Nationals though, don’t you?

KHALIL: Well, yeah. That’s my latter point, Peter. Morrison has said he’s going to Glasgow, but what’s he going to go to Glasgow with? What is he just going to sit around and eat the sandwiches that the Glaswegians provide him? I mean, you know, he’s got nothing to stand on diplomatically. He’s not going to be able to use any leverage in negotiations with the big emitters to get real reductions in emissions. He won’t be able to join the bigger players on the table, frankly. He’ll be like the little kid in the little kids’ table eating his sandwiches.

STEVANOVIC: What if he goes with a net zero commitment by 2050, plus he goes with 2030 targets that are going to be well and truly beaten.

KHALIL: Yeah, I saw and heard him in Parliament yesterday talk about the fact that the targets, a 26 to 28%, he’s saying that we are going to beat those and we’re going to exceed those. Well if that’s the case, then make the commitment about where you’re going to exceed. What is that going to be? Don’t lead from behind. Okay. Then why not say that’s your target? I mean, he is again, leading from behind. He is again, mitigating all responsibility for leadership. He’s done it at the national level as I’ve being critical of the Morrison government for lacking National leadership when it comes to vaccines and quarantine and reigning in the Premiers and Chief Ministers and giving some national leadership consistency around, even on our borders. And that hasn’t happened both from Labor and Liberal premiers either side, he’s been following them. Well, he’s going to do the same at the international level. And it’s sad because Australia could actually stand there with the US and the UK and many other of our major partners, because this is a massive global issue, and we want the big emitters reduce their emissions. Australia won’t be able to have a hand in that.

STEVANOVIC: Yeah. But I mean, when it comes to the Americans, I mean, they’re going to have quite lofty targets that they may well be taken to COP26, but can they actually be achieved?

KHALIL: Well, that’s up for the Americans, isn’t it? It’s up to the Biden administration and the following administrations.

STEVANOVIC: But there is huge doubt about whether they can actually do that.

KHALIL: Well I mean, you need to set your ambition and to set your targets, and then you put in place policies to follow through. Now, the Biden administration has set, as you say, ambitious targets and committed about a trillion dollars to renewable infrastructure and energy and so on. Now, the internals of US politics are such that, you know, you’re right I think you’re alluding to the fact that Congress might pull some of that funding or not. I don’t know. I know what we’re doing in Australia, which is not even setting our goals and our objectives in any ambitious sense, and that actually pulls us back from being able to participate in the international negotiations at Glasgow with any real effectiveness.

STEVANOVIC: Okay. When we’re talking about, I asked you earlier about the fact that we’re not going to be increasing the 2030 targets or not officially making them more ambitious. But because those projections indicate that we’re going to comfortably beat those targets anyway. Is that an example of not needing targets to be legislated?

KHALIL: I’ve heard this. This is the argument that Scott Morrison makes, which is, what does he say? He wants technology not targets? Well, you can’t have good technology, and you can’t have advances, without setting the objectives because then that’s a signal to the market, Pete. And by the way, just to sort of, not cross-examine your question I guess, but to cross-examine Morrison’s claim, when he says that we’re going to exceed those targets. That’s largely because a lot of those gains were made prior to the Coalition and certainly Morrison being in government. They were made much earlier than that. And that’s why we’re going to be able to exceed those targets, according to him. In fact, in the last couple of years of his government, hasn’t really gone that far as far as reductions. But set that aside, you do need objectives, you do need targets to actually be able to lean into the policies that you need. He hasn’t articulated any of these policies. He’s having a fight with the Nats now about a target, which is pretty basic stuff about a net zero emissions target, which the rest of the world is committed to pretty much.

STEVANOVIC: Finally, are we going to have to pull the Pacific under our umbrella when it comes to buying carbon credits because China might well do it. So, we’re going to have to beat China to that?

KHALIL: Well, I don’t know about what we’d have to do to beat China in the Pacific. I think we’ve said very clearly that renewables are so much more competitive now and so much cheaper. They’re much, much cheaper. So the market is going and investing in renewables. So I’m not sure about us competing with China with respect to the Pacific. I think there needs to be again, a policy with our partners in the Pacific around climate change to support them in their efforts and I’m sure we’ll be thinking about what we do on that when it comes to government.

STEVANOVIC: Okay, Peter Khalil. Good to see you. Talk to you soon.

KHALIL: Thank you.