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Question Time: IPCC, Coal and Climate Change

Michael questions Minister for Natural Resources, Mines and Energy as to the long term viability of burning coal given the IPCC's findings on climate change.

You can read the question below or in the official Queensland Parliament Record of Proceedings (Hansard), or watch it HERE.

Mr BERKMAN: My question is to the Minister for Natural Resources, Mines and Energy. Ten days ago the world’s top scientists at the IPCC confirmed that the world must stop burning thermal coal by 2050 to avoid catastrophic global warming, including the total destruction of the Great Barrier Reef. Does the minister accept the IPCC’s findings and what is the government’s plan to stop burning and exporting thermal coal by 2050?

Dr LYNHAM: I thank the member for the question. We all know back in 2015, 195 countries adopted the Paris Agreement’s commitment to limit global warming to well below two degrees Celsius and as close to 1.5 degrees as possible. The member is referring to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. On 8 October 2018 a special report was released limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels. The special report examines pathways to achieve this target, and these pathways illustrate a range of ways the 1.5 degrees target could be reached including through rapid uptakes in renewable energy sources—exactly what we are doing here in Queensland and exactly as per the previous response of the environment minister.

Can I relay his concerns, which I agree with, especially with the federal government? We are still in the dark as to the current status regarding the National Energy Guarantee. I have written to the energy minister asking what the government position is on the National Energy Guarantee, and we have not heard a thing. It is very disappointing. What we have is media reports, but it appears that the emissions reduction target is gone. They might as well rip up the Paris Agreement now let alone talk about it, as par for the federal government.

They have walked away from emissions. They said that they would get the 26 per cent reduction in emissions in a cakewalk. The 26 per cent reductions emission was based on assumptions by the Energy Security Board. The assumption was that the NEG would be implemented. Without any NEG, those assumptions are worthless. The only way they are going to get to 26 per cent is through the actions of the Queensland government and other governments such as Victoria. Only through us can they get to 26 per cent emissions reduction. If the Andrews government is not elected in Victoria, that 26 per cent trajectory will be under threat. It is only the state governments that are pulling their weight here.

The Queensland government has consistently had strong, stable policies—a 50 per cent renewable energy target. Anyone who wants to invest in renewable energy in Australia is coming to Queensland. There are 16 projects underway, with another 16 on the way and 71 projects all lined up. A key component of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s illustrative pathways is the requirement to increase the renewable energy share of electricity generation by between 48 per cent and 60 per cent by 2030. We are doing this in spades.

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