27 November 2015


Tonight I depart for Paris to attend events associated with the United Nations Climate Change Conference, where I will meet with leaders, business leaders, climate experts, environmental groups and scientists to discuss global action on climate change.


It is frankly embarrassing Australia is being officially represented at these critical talks by a Liberal Government determined to hold Australia back on taking action on climate change.


Under Malcolm Turnbull and his Liberals, Australia goes to the Paris Climate Change conference as the only developed nation that has gone backwards on climate action in the past two years.


It is important the rest of the world understands the Liberal Party is out of step with the overwhelming majority of Australians, who believe we must take meaningful action on climate change.


Malcolm Turnbull is flying to Paris carrying Tony Abbott’s climate-sceptic baggage.


Under the Liberals’ ‘Direct Action’, it is taxpayers, not polluters, who pay to reduce emissions at a significant cost to the budget.


Malcolm Turnbull himself described the climate change policy he is taking to Paris as “an environmental figleaf to cover a determination to do nothing”.


The Prime Minister knows what he ought to do, but he doesn’t have the courage to do it.


If Mr Turnbull is not prepared to do what is right,  he must tell the Australian people what the economic and environmental consequences of climate change are.


At the very least, he must help lead the debate about the economic threats climate change poses.


Australians expect their leaders to take climate change seriously, and rely on the best science when developing their policies, including limiting global warming to well below two degrees Celsius on pre-industrial levels.


That’s what Labor has done in developing our pledge to take a policy to the next election of net zero pollution by 2050.


I also announced Labor will use the Climate Change Authority’s recommendation of a 45 per cent reduction in pollution by 2030 (on 2005 levels) as the basis for our consultations with industry, employers, unions and the community.


This is similar to the strong action other countries are taking - Germany (the world’s 4th largest economy) is setting a 45 per cent target and the UK (the world’s 5th largest economy) is using a 61 per cent target on the same 2005 levels.


Labor also supports five yearly review processes which are also supported by major economies like the United States, China and France as well as the most vulnerable nations such as our Pacific Island neighbours.


Australians know the longer we delay action on climate change, the more severe the cost.


If we do not act, Australia will continue to experience an increase in extreme weather events, more severe droughts and rising sea levels.


All of which will come at an incredibly high cost to our economy, our environment and our way of life.


Deputy Leader Tanya Plibersek will be Acting Leader of the Opposition while I am away.