JULIE BISHOP: I’m here in Paris leading the Australian delegation and negotiations in this final and vital week of COP21.
I began work straight away by chairing a high-level ministerial meeting of what is called the Umbrella Group, ten countries that are non EU developed countries and this was an opportunity to talk strategies and what compromises will be required in order to meet a global agreement.
My sense is that while there’s a great deal of optimism, there is still a lot of work to be done and considerable negotiations will still have to take place.
JOURNALIST: Minister have you had the opportunity to apologise to the Foreign Minister of the Marshall Islands after the recent comments on climate change and if so, what was his reaction?
JULIE BISHOP: Let me get some facts on the record because some seem to have a great deal of difficulty dealing with facts. My comments in the Parliament were in response to an authorised, official transcript put out by the Deputy Leader of the Labor Party. It transpires that it contains a shocking blunder but I relied on the transcript – an official transcript – approved, authorised by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. If she makes mistakes in her transcripts, I am not her sub-editor.
I expect to meet with the Pacific island leaders during the course of the week. I know Tony de Brum well, we’ve had many meetings in the past and I’m sure I’ll see him at some time this week.
JOURNALIST: In your bilateral with the Japanese Environment Minister are you only talking climate or is whaling likely to come up as well?
JULIE BISHOP: I’ve not yet had a bilateral meeting with the Japanese Minister although she was present today at the Umbrella Group meeting. I’m expecting to chair that Umbrella Group meeting throughout the week. I am sure that we’ll discuss a whole range of issues and given that Australia has put out a public statement in opposition to the decision of Japan to commence whaling in the Southern Ocean this summer, I anticipate that will be a matter of discussion between us.
JOURNALIST: In your speech to the plenary you mentioned reports of Australia’s energy transition. The recent data shows that coal-fired generation is actually increasing over the last two years. Are you worried that your policies are pushing that in the wrong direction?
JULIE BISHOP: I believe that our policies are appropriate. We have a renewable energy target that will ensure that Australia’s energy sources will be 25 per cent or thereabouts renewable. In the National Statement today that I gave shortly after arriving here, I set out what Australia is seeking to do in terms of reducing our share of global greenhouse gas emissions and that will include renewable energy.
JOURNALIST: You mentioned support for five-yearly reviews of emissions reductions targets in the Paris Agreement. When would the first review happen in Australia’s view?
JULIE BISHOP: Well what we’re seeking to do is ensure that there is a global agreement, that is that all countries sign up, that all countries meet the commitments that they give, and that there be regular reviews. We support a five-yearly review and clearly that would be five years from the time of this agreement, when this agreement is reached. Australia is also looking at our commitments in 2017, that’s been a longstanding commitment to look at what we will do in 2017 in terms of international units. But we expect there to be five-yearly reviews of what countries have committed to do in their global commitment.
JOURNALIST: Just to clarify – that first review would happen in 2020 or would it happen after the deal comes into effect?
JULIE BISHOP: It would be after, it would be after.
JOURNALIST: So it would be 2025 the first review under Australia’s (indistinct)?
JULIE BISHOP: No before that. I’m thinking around 2023. Any further questions?
JOURNALIST: There is a suggestion that there will be a long-term goal in the text of the final agreement that may suggest that the world needs to be decarbonised or climate neutral by the middle of this century. What’s Australia’s position on that?
JULIE BISHOP: Well the detail of the text is currently being negotiated and I won’t be announcing Australia’s negotiating position on each and every matter because then it wouldn’t be a negotiation. So I’ll keep the media informed once we’ve landed on a particular position but until then I’ll leave the negotiations to be conducted and then we will obviously be part of the final agreement.
But Australia’s position has been made clear in terms of our targets. That’s what we’re focusing on, and we’re now dealing with other issues that have been raised from time to time whether it be on particular terminology, whether it be on particular aspirations, particular ambitions or particular targets.
JOURNALIST: When it comes to the monitoring of countries’ commitments, can you explain what Australia would like to see. Obviously the detail won’t be done here. So what’s the minimum we’d like to see in this agreement to make sure that everybody is going to be monitoring and reviewing on the same platform?
JULIE BISHOP: Well this is the whole issue around what’s called transparency; that is to ensure that countries meet the commitments that they maintain. This is the point I made in the National Statement that I gave today – that Australia says what it will do and then does it. And we want to ensure that all countries meet the commitments that they have claimed. Otherwise the targets and the ambitions will become meaningless. So there will be methodologies adopted as to how that transparency will take place. Our point is that all countries should sign up for that.
JOURNALIST: How soon after COP will Australia be required or will want to re-establish its own long-term targets?
JULIE BISHOP: Well the targets we have in place are to 2030. That’s our commitment.
JOURNALIST: But the targets used to be 2050 though?
JULIE BISHOP: The target that we have signed up to is till 2030 and that’s our position. That’s the mandate I have here in Paris.
JOURNALIST: Just quickly on financing I know you won’t reveal every bit of negotiating positioning from Australia but on financing, Australia’s expanded donor base, what are the kind of trade-offs do you think might need to be made to actually achieve it?
JULIE BISHOP: Well clearly we are in the process of negotiations. Australia has made its commitment to climate finance. The Prime Minister made that statement at the Leaders Day last week. So Australia is making a significant contribution. We’re looking at ensuring that all sources of finance are taken into account, private sector and the like. So in terms of compromises, that’s obviously part of the negotiation that’s underway.
JOURNALIST: Would you, would we be happy to go above $100 billion post 2020 here if the donor base is expanded?
JULIE BISHOP: Well that would depend on the donor base.
JOURNALIST: Minister, Australia is supporting the 1.5 degree target. How do you reconcile this with (indistinct)?
JULIE BISHOP: What Australia said is that we support the “well below 2 degrees” and a number of countries have raised the issue of 1.5 and we have said that we will support an appropriate reference to that in the text.
Thank you and I’m sure I’ll see you later in the week.
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