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Estimates: Are the Qld Government's climate targets consistent with the Paris Agreement?

During Parliamentary Budget Estimates on Thursday 29 July 2022, I asked Queensland Chief Scientist whether the Labor State Government's climate targets - which are the same as the LNP's - are consistent with our commitments under the Paris Agreement.

Unfortunately the Chief Scientist wasn't allowed to answer, but you can read the department's answers below or in the official Queensland Parliament Record of Proceedings (Hansard).

Mr BERKMAN: I am interested to know whether I can ask a question directly of the Chief Scientist.

CHAIR: You have to go through the minister first.

Mr BERKMAN: Okay. I will ask the question, making it clear that it is a question I would very much appreciate having answered by the Chief Scientist. Given the substantial publication of information around emissions reduction trajectories and the importance of early cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, is Queensland’s net zero by 2050 emissions reduction target consistent with our obligations as a nation under the Paris Agreement?

CHAIR: You are seeking an opinion. I will allow some latitude.

Mr BERKMAN: No, it is—

CHAIR: Do not argue with me, please. I am trying to give you latitude. Minister, would you like to respond?

Ms SCANLON: I would just question whether it is still a policy matter.

Mr BERKMAN: It is a question of consistency of state policy with other requirements, other obligations that exist and apply to Queensland as part of a signatory state to the Paris Agreement.

Ms SCANLON: Around our 2050 target.

Mr BERKMAN: Indeed, yes. I would suggest that the Chief Scientist is the person in the room who is best qualified to give a response to that, but clearly it is not within my power to ask the question of him.

Ms SCANLON: I am more than happy for the Chief Scientist or the deputy director-general who leads this space in our department to come up and answer that question.

Mr BERKMAN: I cannot say I am sure of Mr Merrick’s qualifications, where Professor Possingham’s do speak for themselves—no disrespect, Mr Merrick.

Mr Merrick: I take no offence whatsoever.

Dr Hussey: If I have understood your question correctly, I think the best way to answer it is to say that the Australian government is a signatory to the Paris Agreement. The 43 per cent target that is currently before the House in Canberra in relation to that federal commitment was worked out in the context of the Queensland position using the existing 2030 and 2050 targets that we have for Queensland. That is to say, the trajectory for zero net emissions by 2050 is a federal, state and, frankly, largely globally accepted target. The 43 per cent is obviously a much more advanced, more progressive target than the 26 to 28 per cent target that we were living with until recently.

Mr BERKMAN: Indeed. There is no dispute over that at all.

Dr Hussey: In terms of where the Queensland target fits within that milieu, you go back to the RepuTex modelling that was done to support the 43 per cent target for the Australian government now. That target has very much been worked out on the basis of Queensland’s existing commitments, which is 30 per cent by 2030 and zero net emissions by 2050. It does very much rely—and it makes this explicit—on the Queensland government renewable energy target by 2030. It is a critical pillar, if you like, to that 43 per cent, but there is no expectation in relation to the RepuTex modelling, as far as I am aware, that anticipates the Queensland government doing anything with its targets beyond what it currently is at the moment.

CHAIR: Thank you.


CHAIR: We have had half an hour of questioning from opposition and now crossbench.

Mr BERKMAN: I mean no disrespect to Dr Hussey, but I was hoping the Chief Scientist might be given a chance to also answer.

CHAIR: Member, order! There are 10 minutes of questions left and then summing-up. I am going to move to government questions to finish the day.

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