Australia's climate fight depends on technology, Angus Taylor tells UN climate summit

Australian Energy Minister Angus Taylor has called on other countries to embrace new technologies to reduce their carbon emissions.

In his major address to the COP25 summit, Energy Minister Angus Taylor said Australia was committed to the Paris agreement and on track to meet and beat its target set for 2030.

Angus Taylor said Australia remained committed to the Paris Agreement and was backing an unprecedented wave of clean energy investment.

But he also urged action on shoring up the legitimacy of the global carbon trading market, which some say is undermined by corruption.

"Here in Madrid, we need to finalise arrangements for Paris agreement carbon markets that give us confidence traded carbon units represent genuine emissions reductions," Mr Taylor said.

He used the speech to announce Australia would take part in a new initiative known as the Leadership Group for Industry Transition, aimed at cleaning up the world's heaviest greenhouse gas emitting industries such as steel, cement, aluminium, aviation and shipping.

Mr Taylor said strong messages and targets alone would not address climate change, no matter how ambitious.

"The world needs action to reduce emissions and Australia believes technology will be a key driver of the global transition to lower emissions," he said.

"We can only reduce emissions, as fast as the deployment of commercially viable technology allows. This means, we need to get the right technology to the marketplace, when and where it is needed."

Energy MinisterAngus Taylor attending the panel session 'Financing the Paris Agreement' at COP25 in Madrid.
Source: AAP

Australia's focus was on working with industry, researchers and international partners on "priority technology" such as hydrogen.

A national hydrogen strategy was launched last month, outlining the benefits not only in terms of emissions, but the domestic economy and exports.

Last year $14.1 billion was invested in clean energy in Australia, with renewables now making up over 25 per cent of the national electricity market.

And Australia has the world's highest uptake of residential solar panels, with one in five households now using them.

Earlier at the summit, Fijian clergyman and climate advocate James Bhagwan seized on an infamous image of Prime Minister Scott Morrison brandishing a lump of coal in parliament.

"As much as I love him as a Christian brother, each lump of coal represents a nail in our coffins and to our crosses," Reverend Bhaghwan said.

Mr Taylor said Australia was providing an extra $500 million over five years from 2020 to help Pacific nations invest in clean energy and climate and disaster resilience.

And an Asia Pacific disaster risk reduction summit would be held in Brisbane in June.

Mr Morrison, who was in Sydney on Tuesday, said he respected the views of all members of the "Pacific family".

"No government has done more to engage the Pacific than our government."

Australia has pledged to reduce emissions by 26 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030 as part of the Paris agreement.

However government projections show more than half that target will be achieved through carryover credits from achieving goals of the Kyoto protocol.

The 25th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention on Climate Change is expected to work through the rules for implementing the Paris agreement.

With the use of the carryover allowances to meet international emissions targets on the agenda to be debated at the COP25 with about 100 countries pushing for the practice to be banned. 

Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese said the government was trying to "fiddle with the figures" to meet international climate commitments.

"Well, it's no wonder the world is pushing back on that," Mr Albanese told reporters in Queensland.

Mr Albanese said the government needed to reduce domestic carbon emissions and become more involved in global action to address climate change.

"The government's position on climate change and energy is embarrassing."

Published 11 December 2019 at 7:01am, updated 11 December 2019 at 4:15pm