Energy Minister Chris Bowen is joining a staggering 70,000 people flying into Dubai to talk up climate change action, as Sky News host Andrew Bolt issues a scathing critique of the latest trip.
Mr Bolt said the fact Cop28 would have 70,000 people flying in, which is double the attendees at the previous 2022 UN climate conference in Egypt, was ‘an elaborate and stupid joke’.
Mr Bowen will be accompanied by Assistant Minister for Climate Change and Energy Senator Jenny McAllister as part of a government delegation of 48.
Opposition Shadow Energy Minister Ted O’Brien will head a separate contingent from the Opposition, and will deliver a speech to the World Nuclear Association.
The opposition has ramped up calls for nuclear power in Australia , but Mr Bowen has dismissed the idea as a ‘fantasy wrapped in a delusion, accompanied by a pipe dream’.
Instead the Albanese government will focus on renewable energy projects such as wind, solar, battery and hydro.
Bolt savaged Mr Bowen’s oft-repeated claim that renewables are ‘the cheapest form of energy’, calling the claim ‘absolute bollocks’
He also cited a quote from AGL CEO Markus Brokhof contradicting Mr Bowen’s claim, at least in the shorter timeframes.
‘There’s a bit of misunderstanding at the moment when people say renewables will be cheaper and that lead to cheaper generation costs,’ Mr Brokhof said.
‘That’s wrong. In the short and the medium term this will lead to higher costs.’
Bolt scoffed at the Cop28, which he said was a ‘quasi-religious’ gathering to ‘worship the climate gods’ and accused those attending of being part of a climate activist and advocate ‘industry’.
‘Bowen’s saying renewables are cheaper and will save you money. The guy who makes your electricity says well no, it will cost more.
‘Who’s telling the truth? Check your bills over the year you will find out who is conning you, Bolt advised his viewers.
‘That’s the thing with this government, they’re so carried away with ideaology the facts don’t seem to count.
The choice of UAE has proven a controversial one.
The UAE is the world’s eighth largest fossil fuel exporter and produces more than 4 million barrels of oil per day.
The hydrocarbon sector makes up a quarter of the small Arab state’s GDP, half of its exports and 80 per cent of government revenues
With fuel priced well below international market rates and subsidies to allow for almost continuous air conditioning in many homes, buildings and public spaces it is also one of the highest emitters of CO2 emissions in the world per capita.
On the eve of the conference the BBC reported leaked documents that showed the UAE has been using its role as the host and presidency of conference to secure oil and gas deals.
The BBC reported that the UAE’s COP28 president, Sultan Al Jaber has continued in his role as CEO of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company.
Leaked documents provided to BBC ‘by a whistleblower’ showed that Al Jaber and his COP28 leadership team have been planning to use their access as host and presidency to increase exports of Adnoc’s oil and gas.
COP28 discussions will focus on attempts to get an agreement making the promises of climate change action governments give should be broadened to cover the emissions from all economic activity – including food and farming, for example.
There will also an attempt to make countries more accountable for promises they make.
Meanwhile Mr Bowen has been accused of trying to hide a report that leaves his government’s CO2 emissions targets and claims in tatters.
The Annual Climate Change Statement table in Parliament on Thursday showed that Australian carbon emissions rose by 3.6million tonnes in the year to June compared to the previous 12 months and the nation was not on track to meet reduction targets.
However, Mr Bowen insisted the nation was ‘within striking distance’ of the Albanese’s government’s target of 43 percent cut in emissions by 2030.
Energy Minister Chris Bowen is joining a staggering 70,000 people attending the UN Cop28 climate talks beginning on Thursday in Dubai
‘With policies we have announced and are in the process of implementing, Australia’s emissions are projected to be 42 per cent below 2005 levels in 2030, compared to 40 per cent in last year’s projections,’ Mr Bowen told parliament.
‘The fact is that our targets are ambitious in that they require a big lift in effort over the next seven years.’
Despite Mr Bowen’s optimism, the report clearly stated that current trends had to be drastically reversed to meet 2030 targets.
To achieve the 2030 target, Australia will need to decarbonise at an average annual rate of 17 million tonnes of carbon per year, but in the year to June emissions were rising not falling.
‘Australia emitted 467million tonnes (Mt) CO2-e in the year ending June 2023, which is 116 Mt CO2-e more than the level we need to reach by 2030 if we are to meet the Paris Agreement target of a 43% reduction below the level of emissions in 2005,’ the report said.
Performers greet those jetting in for the Cop28 talks in the United Arab Emirates beginning on Thursday
Mr O’Brien accused Mr Bowen of trying to sneak the damning report through by not tabling it well in advance to allow for scrutiny but letting other MPs look at it ‘just a couple of hours ago’.
‘The Minister didn’t even have the courage to be upfront with the Australian people on this issue,’ Mr O’Brien said.
‘He didn’t even mention it in his speech.
‘This Minister relies on the dark arts of politics with all the smoke and mirrors …a deflection here,’ Mr O’Brien said.
He also claimed that clean energy investment ‘has dropped to among the lowest level since such figures have been recorded’.
‘Wind and battery are below one-tenth the pace that’s required for Labor to meet its target, Mr O’Brien said, citing the Clean Energy Council’s report on the September quarter.
Shadow energy minister Ted o’Brien accused Mr Bowen of Mr Bowen of trying to hide the fact emissions in Australia are going up
Conservative firebrand has labelled the UN Cop28 climate talks as ‘dangerous and dumb’
Expo City Dubai will be the venue for Cop28 climate change talks with the United Arab Emirates being a controversial choice for host as one of the world’s biggest exporters of fossil fuels