Mark Levy: COP28 has wrapped up in Dubai, and it ended with a historic compromise more than 190 countries approved the UN Climate Change declaration. It calls for the world to transition away from fossil fuels, and commit to trip ling the world’s renewable energy capacity, it’s all in the bid to achieve this net zero thing by 2050. As usual, Chris Bowen, Minister for Climate Change and Energy made a fool of himself.
He insisted we get rid of coal and gas even though Australia relies on it for two thirds of our electricity. And then there was the bizarre acknowledgement of indigenous people while in Dubai still makes no sense to me. Now the nuclear debate has well and truly heated up. Shadow Energy Minister Ted O’Brien, who makes a lot of sense when it comes to energy, he’s been pushing for Australia to jump on the nuclear energy bandwagon.
And to that order, Mr. O’Brien told the summit a Coalition government would sign a pledge to triple nuclear energy output the pledge has already been signed by 22 nations including the US and would overturn the Australian nuclear energy moratorium. Ted O’Brien, the Shadow Energy Minister joins me on the line, Ted good morning to you.
Ted O’Brien: Morning, Mark.
Mark Levy: How was the trip?
Ted O’Brien: Well, it’s nice to be home. But look, I think it’s worthwhile it was it was good to catch up with a whole bunch of pure country legislators. So US, UK, the French, the Norwegians, the Japanese and so forth. People who have a far more pragmatic approach to managing climate and energy than the current Australian government so in many respects it was actually very worthwhile for for doing that.
Mark Levy: We will get to Minister Bowen in just a second but Australia’s among the group of nations who have committed to tripling the world renewable energy capacity. What do you make of that commitment?
Ted O’Brien: Oh, look, Mark, I’m okay if the rest of the world want to do that. I have a problem if that’s Australia’s plan. We already are world leaders when it comes to how many renewables we have on our grid. If we tripled it, we’re effectively saying that we’re going to be 100% or there abouts renewables. You can’t have all your eggs in one basket. It’s just dumb. It doesn’t work from an economics perspective doesn’t work from an engineering perspective. But if the rest of the world was to triple renewables, I see no reason why we would stand in their way.
Mark Levy: I don’t know whether you saw the story while you’re away. The data that came through from the Institute here in Australia. It said that if Australia is to continue down this path for renewables, it would need 1/3 of Australia’s productive agricultural land. In other words, the size of Tasmania times five. So we’re talking about productive agricultural land at a time where we’re trying to look after the environment. Does that make any sense to you?
Ted O’Brien: Well, I didn’t see that report. It rings true from what I’ve heard from others who have done similar analyses and I think it’s just madness. You know, why kill off prime agricultural land? Why kill the environment for saving the planet? There’s a better way to decarbonize and that’s why we do need to talk about nuclear energy too Mark I mean, Australians aren’t sitting around going oh, no, no, we shouldn’t do anything. We Australian’s are just saying, let’s not do dumb things. Let’s not take gas out of the system. Let’s not destroy prime agricultural land. There’s no point in making us a poor country a weak country and a country just got to be completely dependent on foreign powers for our supply chains, like we currently are for solar panels from China.
Mark Levy: You’re so right. You’re so you’re so right, but we’re just on nuclear what while you’re mentioning, this is what Chris Bowen says about nuclear. A pipe dream wrapped in fantasy accompanied by an illusion, but there aren’t enough renewables being built and baseload coal is being phased out too quickly. So isn’t he the one living in fantasy land?
Ted O’Brien: He is, and you know, he’s a pixie at the bottom of the garden dancing on his own when it comes to COP too. I mean, there we are over in COP the United Kingdom, United States, Canada, France, Japan, you name it. Our peer nations, our closest allies and friends are all saying they need-zero emissions nuclear energy as part of their mix.
But not Chris Bowen, not the Labor Party. We can all do it on wind and solar, nothing else. We are completely isolating ourselves internationally by taking this ideological approach. I mean, surely Mark, as Australians, we have the humility to learn from other countries. So all of our friends and allies stand in one corner. Chris Bowen is dancing on his own in the other.
Mark Levy: What did you think of the minister’s indigenous acknowledgement while in Dubai. Back here it made no sense to us.
Ted O’Brien: Look, to be honest, I didn’t hear it in person. I started reading the transcript that went for a few pages. I didn’t get to the bottom of it.
Mark Levy: Can I read it to you now? I begin with an acknowledgement that at the heart of action on climate change must be profound respect for those people who have cared for our respective lands for millennia, indigenous people across the world recognizing that respect for indigenous knowledge, cultures, and traditional practices is critical. What’s that got to do with COP28 at a forum that’s being held in Dubai?
Ted O’Brien: I learned a long time ago not to try to explain Chris Bowen’s perspective. Look, he went to COP with a very confused view of the world, especially when it came to gas. I mean, he was in Australia only a month ago, making grand speeches at CEDA talking about the importance of gas. And then he rocks up in COP and says, gas is bad.
We need to get rid of it. I mean, the whole thing is confused. Thankfully, the final communique that came out of COP was not the one Chris Bowen wanted. Otherwise Australia would have lost big time on that. The final communique talks about carbon capture and storage. Good. So we need to abate these technologies.
The final communique talks about zero emissions, nuclear energy, Chris Brown didn’t want that. But at least there’s a degree of flexibility that the world has compromised on which is the complete opposite of the narrow ideological path Chris Bowen wanted.
Mark Levy: I said earlier, there’s only one thing missing. If you ask me about Chris Bowen, and this COP28. He needed the guitar, a campfire and everyone’s singing Kumbaya and everyone would have been on the same page. I don’t know why we give it so much weight. I mean, it’s it’s virtually a chance for 50, bureaucrats, politicians to go over there and have a chat. And all of a sudden we want to sign up to these sorts of things. I mean, it’s not going to be legislated ratified or anything along those lines. It’s simply a summit to talk about climate change. But anyway, Ted, you’re talking some sense. And for that, I want to give you an enormous pat on the back. Merry Christmas to you and your your colleagues. And if we don’t talk beforehand, have a great New Year.