JULIE BISHOP: …what we have witnessed here is an historic moment where all nations around the world have come together to agree to take action on climate change. Australia is chair of the Umbrella Group and has spoken on behalf of the group, and has confirmed that we adopt the Paris agreement on climate change. This means that all countries will take action according to their own national circumstances and capabilities and capacities to reduce global greenhouse emissions and ensure that climate resilient initiatives can be put in place.
I’m delighted to be involved in this historic moment and even though our work here is done, now the hard work of implementation begins. Australia came here seeking an ambitious agreement and while we didn't get all that we envisaged, we are certainly pleased with this agreement because it means all nations are committed to taking action and that's what we sought.
JOURNALIST: What difference will this make for Australia domestically, what changes to our domestic policy might flow from this?
JULIE BISHOP: What is important about this agreement is that all countries can make decisions according to their circumstances. Things aren't being imposed on us by the United Nations, other countries don't determine our targets. All countries are able within their domestic policies to decide their targets and how they'll implement them. What is important is that all countries have agreed to take action to reduce our greenhouse emissions.
JOURNALIST: But does that give us comfort to do more at home?
JULIE BISHOP: It certainly means that there is flexibility for us to do more and in the agreement, the spirit of the agreement, is to encourage countries to be ambitious, to aim higher and to take into account their circumstances of course. But the fact that all countries have signed up to this agreement makes it an historic moment. It also makes it a most effective and enduring agreement.
JOURNALIST: There is speak of hard work, why is this going to be difficult for Australia to implement an ambition of below two degrees. What are some of the ambitions you're going to have to make when you go back to Canberra with this deal?
JULIE BISHOP: For a start, Australia has put forward our nationally determined targets. It will take a great deal of effort to achieve those targets and of course if you're being ambitious over time, we will need to work even harder. But we don't want to damage our economy without having an environmental impact. So we have to get that balance right between environmental and economic outcomes and I believe that this agreement provides the framework for countries to do precisely that. So what we see here is a high level of transparency, a high level of accountability, there's a rules based system so that we can see what other countries are doing and we will be able to hold each other to account for our targets and Australia prides itself on saying what it's going to do and then achieving it. Not all countries have been in that position and now they have committed to a level of accountability and transparency, it gives us comfort that we know what our major trading partners are doing, what major economies are doing, and major trading competitors are doing.
JOURNALIST: Is it incredibly hard to get this level of agreement, yet we know what is currently being committed by nations is enough to reach that two degree limit yet, is it going to be even harder to get the kind of targets on the board to reach (inaudible) what's been agreed to today?
JULIE BISHOP: This is an extraordinary achievement. We shouldn't downplay what has happened today. Almost 200 nations have signed up to a framework, a very detailed framework, on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and taking action against climate change. And it is an ambitious agreement and all parties have signed on to it in the spirit of collaboration and collegiality and I'm very excited by the prospect of this being used as a framework for further action.
JOURNALIST: We've heard a lot about how important it is for action to be taken. When will Australians find out about what changes the Australian Government will be making to policy and Australian industry so that Australia can achieve those targets. When will we find out?
JULIE BISHOP: We have been working very closely with business industries, civil society, indeed we have worked closely with them during the course of the last two weeks here in Paris and representatives from all sectors of the Australian economy, Australian society. So there is a huge level of commitment within Australia, across industry, across business, across NGOs, civil society and communities, to reduce our contribution to greenhouse gas emissions. We are having a review of our policies in 2017 and all countries are being encouraged to do that and we'll consider what more needs to be done at that time. The agreement also provides for consideration in 2020. We have achieved the five-year yearly reviews, which was an absolute for Australia and I think that this will give us more comfort and confidence that we are working in collaboration with other countries; that we are not alone in this, we are working with almost 200 other countries, including the major emitters, the United States and China and that was important for us.
JOURNALIST: If this means that the whole world is moving away from fossil fuels faster than they were before, doesn't that have implications for Australia?
JULIE BISHOP: It doesn't matter how one achieves the outcomes in the targets, as Prime Minister Turnbull has said on a number of occasions. We look at the results and different countries will get there in different ways because they all have different circumstances. New Zealand, for example, relies on hydro and France relies on nuclear. All countries bring a different energy source to the table. There's a significant focus on renewables in the agreement, there's a significant focus on R & D, on technology, and an anticipation that technological breakthroughs will also make a difference. So all countries will bring their different circumstances to the table, but what's important is the commitment to reducing their contribution to greenhouse gas emissions. And that's what Australia is seeking to do. We are dealing with reality, we are dealing with the pragmatic outcomes that this agreement affords us to take.
JOURNALIST: What kind of compromises has Australia made?
JULIE BISHOP: All countries have made compromises. It is an exceedingly complex text, and so a lot of compromises were made. But overall we achieved the headline issues that we wanted; that is all countries to be signed up to this agreement, that was important. We wanted a higher level of transparency and accountability and that is being provided. We were looking for five-yearly reviews, and we've achieved that. And also long-term transformation and that's also been achieved. But there's no point in going into the details about what wasn't achieved, I'm looking at this in a positive light. We had almost 200 nations signed onto a global legal agreement to reduce greenhouse emissions.
JOURNALIST: As Foreign Minister you see a lot of discord and conflict (inaudible) negotiations and discussions. Tell us what it was like to be involved in one of those that has had a fairly momentous outcome?
JULIE BISHOP: The Umbrella Group, which Australia chaired, was very focused and very positive. We were always trying to find constructive ways to find solutions to some of the challenges, hurdles, barriers that we came up against. And we worked closely with the European Union and likewise they were looking for constructive solutions. We kept in regular contact with the French president's secretariat to ensure that we weren't there to complain, we were there to find answers and we would offer up constructive ideas and not all of them were accepted. But a number of them were accepted so I believe that Australia and the Umbrella Group has played a very positive role in this whole process over the last two weeks and indeed leading up to it and I believe that all countries came here with the right view in mind - that they wanted to see common aspirations in reducing global greenhouse gas emissions. And we've achieved that framework, so it's an historic moment and I'm very proud to be part of that.
JOURNALIST: Minister is it the truth that as a result of this agreement, fossil fuels are dead and that's going to have huge domestic implications, you surely can't deny that and you're going to have to deal with the fall-out of this in Australia and work very hard. Some scientists have said that our emissions targets now need to be sixty five per cent of (inaudible) to even get close to achieving what we've agreed to here.
JULIE BISHOP: Nobody expects countries to destroy their own economies. That would be self-defeating. What we are all doing is setting targets. The targets were not renegotiated here. We're all setting targets, we've got five-yearly reviews and the framework encourages us all to be ambitious and Australia will. If we can do more, we will. And that's the attitude that all countries have taken. So I'm feeling very positive about this agreement, I think it is a momentous occasion and I'm delighted that the Australian Government gave me a mandate that I could deliver on here in Paris.
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