Simon Birmingham admits Coalition could have done more on climate change

Home Politics Simon Birmingham admits Coalition could have done more on climate change
Simon Birmingham admits Coalition could have done more on climate change

The former government shouldn’t have resisted climate change action so strongly, Liberal senator Simon Birmingham has conceded.

The opposition’s foreign affairs spokesman has returned from a week-long bipartisan trip with Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong to Pacific Island nations, where climate change was on the top of the agenda.

While there, Senator Birmingham said the former government was wrong to resist increasing its 2030 emissions reductions targets.

His admission comes as Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek is in Canada, trying to agree on a global blueprint to stop and reverse nature loss.

Meanwhile, Climate Change Minister Chris Bowen will later on Monday declare the first offshore wind zone in Australia.

“We had put Australia in a position to well and truly exceed the targets that had been set in place and frankly, it was illogical – when you’re clearly on track to exceed those emissions reductions targets, to not then increase the scope of those targets – there was clear headroom to do so,” Senator Birmingham told ABC Radio.

“The new government has done that, and that’s been welcomed.

“Australia would have been, and the Coalition would have been, in a stronger position had we used the headroom that was there and increased the targets given we had put the country on track to exceed those targets.”

In Montreal, Ms Plibersek said Australia had “high ambition” when it came to protecting nature.

“We’ve got a domestic target of protecting 30 per cent of our land and 30 per cent of our oceans by 2030, and we think that should be a global target,” she told ABC Radio.

“We think we should have a target of zero new extinctions, and of course Australia wants to see this done in strong partnership with First Nations peoples.

“Australia has been playing a really positive role in negotiating this final agreement – we’ve really gone from environmental laggard to leader.”

Greens environment spokeswoman Sarah Hanson-Young is also in Montreal and said the world was falling short of the “Paris moment” many had wanted for nature and for the environment.

“The key crucial target around halting and stopping extinction has been watered down significantly. It’s disappointing to see, this is a crucial moment,” she told ABC Radio.

“We know we are at a tipping point.”

Back in Australia, Mr Bowen, alongside Industry Minister Ed Husic and Victoria’s Climate Action Minister Lily D’Ambrosio will declare part of Gippsland the first offshore wind zone in the country.

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