Chris Bowen talks Australian climate change effort on world stage


Bowen will use his speech to praise the US legislation and highlight Australia’s own recently passed Climate Act, which includes a national target to cut emissions by at least 43 per cent by 2030 compared with 2005, and reach net zero by 2050.

“No challenge is bigger than climate change, and our respective governments are completely aligned in our approach to the biggest challenge facing us,” the minister will say, in a veiled swipe at the former Morrison Government’s inaction.

“We believe we can be a renewable energy powerhouse, superpower – choose your preferred superlative. Australia has the potential, with the right policies, to be that, and to create all the jobs that go with it.”

The minister’s concerns about the challenge of climate change were echoed on Tuesday morning by UN Secretary General António Guterres, who called on developed countries to tax the windfall profits of fossil fuel companies and accused energy giants of “feasting on hundreds of billions of dollars in subsidies” while the planet burns.

“Those funds should directed in two ways: to countries suffering loss and damage caused by the climate crisis, and to people struggling to deal with rising food and energy prices,” Guterres said, speaking at the opening of the General Assembly’s annual top-level meeting.

Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong will also attend the UN’s General Assembly this week, which will focus on multiple challenges confronting world leaders, from the war in Ukraine and modern slavery to the impact of rising food prices and concerns over global warming.

Biden will make a later-than-usual appearance at the gathering on Wednesday, delayed by his return from Queen Elizabeth’s funeral in London.

Also in New York to talk up renewables is Australian billionaire Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest, whose Fortescue Metals Group plans to eliminate fossil fuel use and achieve zero emissions in its iron ore operations by 2030.

The mining magnate – who in the past year has met with world leaders and captains of industry to tout his decarbonisation vision – unveiled the finer details of his strategy on Monday and urged other companies to “take the first step” and follow suit.

US President Joe Biden (centre) and First Lady Jill Biden arrive at the State Funeral of Queen Elizabeth II

US President Joe Biden (centre) and First Lady Jill Biden arrive at the State Funeral of Queen Elizabeth IICredit:Getty

The plan involves spending $US6.2 billion ($A9.2b) to eliminate gas and diesel from its operations, and thereby reduce its costs by $US818 million per year. Most of the spending is planned to take place between 2024 and 2028 and includes the deployment of an additional 2-3 gigawatts of renewable energy generation and battery storage, as well as a green mining fleet and locomotives.

Fortescue Future Industries chief executive Mark Hutchinson told The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age that the world was at “an inflection point” when it comes to replacing fossil fuels.

“Most industrial companies have punted it out to 2050, which is basically saying: ‘that’s someone else’s problem; not mine’,” Hutchinson said.

“Now the question their employees, their customers, and their shareholders should be asking is: “if they can do it, why can’t you?”

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