Tanya Plibersek backs mining, 43% emissions reduction target at NPC State of Environment speech

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Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek has thrown her support behind mining after a “shocking” new report revealed the industry is contributing to the decline of Australia’s ecosystems.

Ms Plibersek made the remarks at the National Press Club on Tuesday after she publicly released the 2021 State of the Environment report.

The latest five-yearly scientific assessment found widespread and rapid decline was pushing some ecosystems to the brink of collapse, with climate change, invasive species, habitat loss, pollution and mining to blame.

Ms Plibersek didn’t mention mining or fossil fuels in her speech.

Later, responding to questions from journalists, Ms Plibersek suggested Australia could continue to export fossil fuels, as long as it achieved its “domestic” climate targets.

“Just as, you know, Korea, Japan, Germany … America that export cars to the world aren’t responsible for the emissions of every car they export,” she said.

“We are responsible for our domestic emissions and that’s why we are focused on bringing down our domestic emissions.”

Asked if the report had inspired her to block all new coal mines, Ms Plibersek said mining had been a “really important part of Australia’s prosperity for decades”.

“In fact, mining will continue to be an important part of Australia’s prosperity,” she said.

“There are some people who would say we shouldn’t have any mining anywhere. It’s just not a sustainable or reasonable proposition for a modern economy like Australia’s.”

Nor would she budge on Labor’s short-term greenhouse gas emissions reduction target.

Ms Plibersek was asked whether the “difficult and confronting” report should inspire the Albanese government to reassess its target, with the Greens and climate conscious independents pushing for something more ambitious.

Greens leader Adam Bandt has also said his party’s support for the government’s climate legislation – which it is likely to need in the Senate – could depend on whether Labor continues to back new fossil fuel projects.

Ms Plibersek said Labor’s pledge to cut emissions by 43 per cent on 2005 levels by 2030 was a promise to the Australia people “and we will keep that promise”.

“I think any government that six or seven weeks into its new term, starts breaking promises, is headed for trouble,” she said.

“It would be terrific if we got maximum consensus, on the carbon pollution reduction target and the other elements of the legislation we are taking to the parliament.

“But we have to keep our promise to the Australian people.”

Liberal senator Hollie Hughes later on Tuesday claimed Ms Plibersek didn’t support the mining industry.

She claimed the effects of Australia’s climate action on global warming would be negligible.

“Climate change is not Australia’s problem, it is not a regional problem,” the Opposition’s assistant climate change and energy spokeswoman told the ABC.

“Our emissions are 1.3 per cent. We can shut everything down and we will make zero difference, but we don’t see any moves by this Labor government to call out China for its omissions that are increasing.”

Originally published as Environment Minister throws support behind mining industry after ‘shocking’ report


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