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tv   HAR Dtalk  BBC News  January 29, 2020 12:30am-1:01am GMT

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of a deadly new coronavirus. it's now killed in excess of 130 people in china. hong kong has become the latest territory to announce stringent new measures to stop its spread. president trump has laid out his plans for peace in the middle east. it keeszerusalem as israel's undivided capital and redraws the map of the west bank. the palestinians have rejected the proposals. and news of a powerful earthquake is getting a lot of attention on our website. it struck between the coasts ofjamaica and cuba. it was a magnitude of 7.7 and was felt as far away as miami, where office workers evacuated buildings. that's all. stay with bbc world news. now on bbc news, hardtalk.
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hello and welcome to hardtalk, i'm shaun ley. so much smoke has been generated by australia's bush fires, it's created a plume the size of the continental united states. nasa tracked it as it circumnavigated the globe. drought and record temperatures have created and record temperatures have created a giant tinderbox, yet australia's government insists it is too simplistic to blame climate change. patrick suckling spent two years as australia's ambassador to the environment. he believes the threat is all too real. but with the is he just wasting his time?
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patrick suckling in sydney, welcome to hardtalk. just as some countries have a rainee skinner and, some have a hurricane season, australia has a bushfire season, but how different would you say this one has been? this one has been the worst we've had in new south wales certainly, so it's been unprecedented. it's been horrific, it's been tragic, it's been a summer of hell. i would say up been a summer of hell. i would say up front, taking the opportunity with all your viewers around the world, to say how heart and we've all been with the extraordinary bonds and support we've had around the world for this tragic time. so thank you to you and your viewers around the world who have supported us around the world who have supported us at this time of trouble. while the government said the threat to life remains in once to focus on
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containing the fires and protecting lives, on that metric how do you think it has done? the fires have been unprecedented, they have been shocking, they have been all over australia, there's been burning at the same time and normally in the fire season we see fires go from north to south and. it's been an extraordinary job north to south and. it's been an extraordinaryjob done at commonwealth level but by state governments but most importantly by the fire services on the ground who have worked night and day, week in, week out, month in, month out to do the best they can to contain these fires and protect lives. with lost 5500 buildings and we've lost 2600 homes. tragically we've lost lives but for the heroic efforts we would have lost a whole lot more. by and large the response has been very impressive and we seen that in the commendations and support and the positive feedback we have received around the world for how we... there
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isa around the world for how we... there is a question of leadership and some have argued that the government has got so caught up in this debate about climate change that it hasn't engaged with the people that would have given it the best possible voice. let me put to you what greg mullins, who used to lead the fire and rescue service in new south wales, he said he's been trying to get a meeting with the government since april last year because he said he knew it was going to be a horrifying season. "it's very disappointing we won't listen to earlier and measures could have been taken months ago to make the firefighters more effective and the community safer" topic that's the firstjob of government, to make people safe. 0n firstjob of government, to make people safe. on that basis, hasn't it let them down? it 's and the government takes its advice from all sorts of places and it was briefed about the unprecedented threat this season about the unprecedented threat this season and it happened and it was as bad as we could have thought. the prime minister has said in
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retrospect he could have done some things better, and perhaps listening to them might have been one of them. certainly there's been a significant and dramatic and sustained effort, including through our defence forces, to deal with their this unprecedented bushfire season. the comparison has been drawn by the australian ethics centre about how government prepare for the risk and the potential of a terrorist act. they said at the start of this year they wouldn't wait until there was unanimity on the advice, they would accept the consensus view, now we have seen that with the science, the consensus view of those presenting the intelligence and they take preventative action. so why, the centre asked of our political leaders, have a ignore the warnings of time it scientist and defence a nalysts of time it scientist and defence analysts and played rushden roulette with our future? i think there was a high degree of preparedness, as there always is more australian bushfire seasons. don't forget we've
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had fires for decades and for the whole of human settlement in 60,000 yea rs whole of human settlement in 60,000 years with our indigenous people so there's a high degree of knowledge, awareness and preparation that goes bushfire seasons. i think the thing that happened with this season, it was unprecedented, there was an extended drought so things were very dry. there were all sorts of exacerbating factors like the indian 0cean el nino, the hot winds coming in from the stratosphere from antarctica and, of course, the underlying cause of climate change making things hotter and drier, which means australia will have worse fires as we go forward unless we address the challenge of climate change. so i think a lot of that was understood but the magnitude of this fire when it came was such that even despite significant preparations, including a lot of backburning in all sorts of different areas and control of vegetation, they were, as you saw, unmanageable in many parts of australia's top understood but
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perhaps not acted upon. the then australian government in 2008 commission the garnet climate change report where he wrote... governments of all political colours were warned that the scale of this problem was going to increase. arguably for a lot of australians they don't seem to have prepared adequately for that. you're right, those predictions have been around since the 60s and 70s and the garnet report made observation and the ipcc of the un makes those sorts of observations as well, so that has fed into the thinking around preparedness and actions around bushfire seasons for australia, so it's not to say australia hasn't done anything. as i say, but for the extraordinary efforts of an extraordinary efforts of an extraordinary number of people, volunteers, firefighters, australian defence personnel, communities, the devastation would have been much, much worse. your a former diplomat at and you've
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been quite diplomatic about what you said so far, which is perfectly understandable, but the man that appointed you to yourjob as australian ambassador to the environment, malcolm turnbull, mr morrison's predecessor as prime minister, has been rather more blunt. he said rather than doing what a leader should do, scott morrison downplayed the influence and the threat of climate change, nonsense from a scientific point of view, so that has misled people. do you share that criticism?” view, so that has misled people. do you share that criticism? i think you've heard the prime minister himself say, as i said earlier, that in retrospect he could have... sure, but i want to know what you think. in retrospect he could have... sure, but i want to know what you thinklj think in that context, climate change and recognising climate change and recognising climate change and recognising climate change and accepting and messaging on climate change to the communities about the risks and australia's contribution to the climate change effort around the world is an important factor. but, as you know, that's a longer term factor. at the moment we have these fires upon us
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irrespective of what else was happening in relation to mitigation around the world and in that context, although slow out of the blocks by his own admission, there was an extraordinary effort by all levels of government and all levels of community to deal with the fires stop let me pick up on that phrase slow out of the blocks, because this isa slow out of the blocks, because this is a mounting criticism of australia's attitude to the potential threat of climate change and it comes in various forms. on the one hand we will talk a bit about this in due course, the politics of australia, the dependence on minerals and the fact the voters just in this last election went for a government that said climate change is not actually the key thing we have to worry about, we have to balance the needs of the economy against the environment and rejected a party labour that seems to be edging towards more restrictions and the targets that australian government have set, which is by 2030 australia should decrease its omissions by 26%
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compared to 2005, a target most observers, including the united nations, now think won't be met. putting that altogether, isn't australia not so much a leading but relu cta ntly australia not so much a leading but reluctantly following and trying to other countries from doing more? australia is not leading on climate, that's fair to say, but australia is playing its part. that target you've just mentioned, the 26— 28% target by2030, just mentioned, the 26— 28% target by 2030, that represents a halving of the missions per person in australia, or two—thirds reduction per year of australia, or two—thirds reduction peryearof gdp, australia, or two—thirds reduction per year of gdp, that's not insignificant. but the un says it's not going to be met. that's the view of the un. the abatement coming out of the un. the abatement coming out of the un. the abatement coming out of the australian economy year—on—year suggests we will meet that target. well, the figures i've seen, and you will correctly if i'm wrong about this, is they've kept on increasing. i think in the year to march 2019 a nonpoint 6% jump on the
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previous year. the projections do show that emissions are continuing to increase, although in the last projections there was a slight fall in them, but given the policy measures in place in the australian economy and given the extraordinary up economy and given the extraordinary up of renewables in australia, per capita, we are the highest in the world with one in five households having solar energy, there's also beginning to impact on emissions growth and i think you will see a reduction. and the prime minister, one of the more noticeable newsworthy things coming out of these fires on a climate change perspective, is the prime minister saying he prepared to look at more to look at different policies and new policies, mitigation, adaptation or resilience and that's a very significant comment from him. the climate change performance index, published, as you know, by the international think bank german watch, the latest came out in december, apart from ranking australia as 56 and under the bottom
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five performers in terms of how it meet its climate emissions reduction target and its overall mitigation strategy, it says, "experts note the new government is an increasingly regressive force in negotiations". you were involved in some of those negotiations as ambassador, did you find yourself restrained by the domestic politics and by frankly the internal divisions in this government, which were reflected in previous governments too?|j government, which were reflected in previous governments too? i wasn't restrained as ambassador for the environment for australia in terms of prosecuting our interests internationally. when we signed up to the paris agreement in 2015, the target we selected was comparable with canada, new zealand, japan, the united states. we were in good company. the comment i got when i was ambassador was australia's back, including our climate finance... not too insignificant, including an enormous amount going to the pacific region stop you were told the
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government had made made its final payment to the fund that helps the global action fund developed by the global, un, the gcf has co— financing capabilities and regional coverage australia couldn't possibly provide on its own and yet the australian government has decided it isn't paying any more into that fund. in terms of international leadership, is that the right signal for the government to be sending? we co—chaired that fun for the first three years and it's a nightmare, a difficult fund, very political and quite incompetent so the view of the prime minister was he would prefer to spend australian money directly with a greater impact on the ground in areas we could control. at the same time as he announced australia wouldn't replenish that and, he announced a $2 billion infrastructure fund for the pacific, all of which investments would be put through a climate prism and subsequently announced another $500 million, including an additional $120 million to leverage $800 million of private—sector money,
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exactly the financing you want to see for climate change. on that fund in particular, don't take the criticism. sorry to interrupt you, just to clarify, in some circumstances do with climate change, it is better to act alone? it's better to do things in a whole myriad of ways. we contribute to all sorts of multilateral funds but we also do things bilaterally, but in this case with that fund at that time, it has since had some government improvements, which we are hearing makes the fund a lot more effective, but at the time the decision was made the fund was not working particularly well and the minister's view was it would be better to spend australian money directly in areas of most need that we could control. you yourself in an article published just for christmas said many developing countries are in parts of the world that would be more affected by climate change because they don't have the resources, we need to step in and help them, which
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is clearly what you think the government is doing with its investment in the pacific region. i just wonder why the other pacific nations, some most directly affected, don't see it that way. can i quote you the former prime minister of tuvalu, forgive me if i have missed announced his name, who chaired last year's pacific islands forum. he said he was stunned by the un— pacific tenor and manner of scott morrison, the australian prime minister, who was, in his words, trying to water down the wording of the communique, their agreement on acting on climate change. they wa nted acting on climate change. they wanted really strong action and the australian prime minister was sitting there saying, "no, no, i'm not going to sign that those great. is always different perspectives. what australia was doing in that context was taking out some things in that communique which are unrealistic and untenable. basically no reference to cole or any reliance on that, which is responsible for many of these issues, as you would
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expect, wouldn't you ? many of these issues, as you would expect, wouldn't you? well, saying there should be no new coal—fired power stations by 2020, which is now, that is unrealistic. so if you wa nt to now, that is unrealistic. so if you want to have credibility internationally, it is good to have a statement that has credibility. went do you think australia has credibility internationally? well, that communique the pm signed up to is the most ambitious any australian government has ever signed. is the most ambitious any australian government has ever signedm is the most ambitious any australian government has ever signed. it is not saying much, is it? australia? political record, whether under the labour government where they couldn't agree, and any and put their policy on ice because they we re their policy on ice because they were struck, squabbling over it, or indeed this coalition, the liberal national coalition, which has a p pa re ntly national coalition, which has apparently the same problem. is that because of the voters for the politicians? element i think what you see on climate change and australia's similar to what you see in many parts of the world, which is we are on a journey. so australia has taken action, it is taking action, it does need to do more. i am not contesting that. as you say, have written... many people in australia when they are polled, the vast majority of australians say they want to see stronger action on climate change, and if they have to
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pay for it, they don't mind doing that either. so there is a growing consensus in australia, which i think is shrinking down the view that the claimant and nihilists that are among us, as they are in most societies, or every society. but year on year, decade on decade, australia's action on climate change has been increasing, and i am absolutely confident it will continue to increase. and as i say, i think one of the big news stories out of these tragic fires is the pm is being very clear that climate change is a factor, and being very clear that he is prepared to have a look at a whole range of different policies and solutions in relation to climate change. so that's progress, that's positive. let's talk about, then, the economic issue there. at the heart of it, australia's economy is built on national resources. sure, it's environment is a magnet for tourists, but coal has been the second largest export certainly in recent yea rs. second largest export certainly in recent years. the industry provides around 50,000 jobs directly. now there is going to be a new big mine open, the carmichael mine, run by
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the indian company adani, that has got the go—ahead. in that kind of context, with a project that you yourself when you were in india as australia's climate commissioner said will drive economic growth and create more than 6000 jobs in australia, king cole is going to remain the master, really, in all of this, and however much they may be pressure from other countries, and even some in australia, to reduce carbon emissions, the economic case is going to mitigate that.|j carbon emissions, the economic case is going to mitigate that. i think australia has signed up, as a whole world has, to the paris agreement, and the paris agreement is very clearly on a transition path to net zero emissions by the second half of this century, a much greater climate resilient world, and also to shifting finance flows to make sure that all that happens. that is what australia has signed up to and ratified. many countries around the world have. building a huge new mine and opening further minds to tap these reserves that have so far not been exploited, it's not going to make it any easier to make progress towards that target. if you are already falling short on the target,
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as your critics allege, and others are saying why is australia the only country, by the way, that's kind of engaging ina country, by the way, that's kind of engaging in a bit of an accountancy fiddle, as they see it, to take the credits for meeting its kyoto targets and set them against this new target for the future, it is kind of not playing the rules of the game in the same way as everybody else. it is trying to claim it is doing stuff, but what it is doing is inadequate, and meanwhile it is happily generating more and more carbon emissions. well, i was going to say by the same token you cannot, it is unrealistic, as per the communique i was just talking about in the pacific, to say that fossil fuels will be wished away or swept under the carpet tomorrow. but what about next year, next decade, 50 yea rs, about next year, next decade, 50 years, 100 years? it doesn't sound like that's the kind of direction in which australia is going. please. but if i could just finish this point, the head of the international energy agency briefed us at the ministry last year saying effectively 30 years ago, 80% of the world cosmic energy mix was fossil fuels. 30 years of climate action, 80% still fossil fuels. we fuels. 30 years of climate action, 80% still fossilfuels. we need
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fuels. 30 years of climate action, 80% still fossil fuels. we need to clea n 80% still fossil fuels. we need to clean that up. if we don't clean up fossil fuels, then we are in crisis. yes, we have to pull every level we possibly can, that is renewables, thatis possibly can, that is renewables, that is nuclear for countries that have it, but fossilfuels that is nuclear for countries that have it, but fossil fuels will remain for some decades to come an integral part of the energy mix. we are all transitioning away from that all we are looking for new technologies, better technologies to clea n technologies, better technologies to clean it up, but it is not going to happen overnight. so you can't wish away, from an australian perspective, an entire coal industry overnight, when 80% of the global energy mix is still using fossil fuel. it is a, unrealistic, and b, hypocritical to point the finger at australia on something like that, when the rest of the world, by and large, is still consuming vast amounts of fossil fuel. so australia, like everyone else, he said we will transition out, we will look for better technologies, we will invest in cleaner technologies. 0ne will invest in cleaner technologies. one of the big success stories of some of the policies in australia has been the financing mechanism that has driven $25 billion of clean energy into the australian economy, with closing down our own coal mines. when a closing down coal mines. when a closing down coal mines but building more. so could australia do more? yes, of course we could. the prime minister said he is
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prepared to have a look at it. from my perspective, i think australia could do more. i have said that in some of the articles that i have recently written. lets be specific, how much more do you think it should be doing? because lawrence to piano, the former french environment architect to the paris accord, told the financial times at the end of last year, basically australia is cheating, and essentially, by doing the approach, by taking their prejudice, by not really fulfilling its ambitious target and not going for a very ambitious one, that it is actually going to undermine the whole system. that in that sense australia is not a great exemplar —— laurence tubiana. and its international reputation is being damaged by that. well, i'm not going to defend the government on the intended use of carryover, because what you are saying, i think in that context, is not in the spirit of the paris agreement, which was not to import lower levels of ambition but to step up and have high levels of ambition in the paris agreement. but what i would say is again you have
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seen the prime minister and the government shift on this in recent weeks, where the prime minister has said the government intends to use carryover, to the extent necessary, and we won't know as australia whether we need to use that carryover until 2032 when we drew up our numbers. that's 12 years away. i am absolutely confident that more policies will come through in the australian context, more abatement will come out of the australian economy, as it has been 50 times every year for the last couple of decades, and that carryover will not have to be used. the pm is already signalling that. so in a sense i agree with what laurence has said, andi agree with what laurence has said, and i have worked very closely with her, i can understand her disappointment. but the prime minister, i think, from which recent comments, is being more sensitive to that point. -- recent comments. when i give that point. -- recent comments. when igive and that point. -- recent comments. when i give and finally, and briefly if you can, that we are at a state of transition, as you see it, where there is still new exploitation of carbon going on, but where there is now going to be hopefully an enforcea ble now going to be hopefully an
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enforceable rulebook, which all countries, perhaps excluding the united states for now, play a part in trying to mitigate the effects of climate change, despite that, should australians now expect that next yea r‘s australians now expect that next year's fire season will be more of the same? we're not going to the global temperature cosmic rays overnight or in the next decade, or even a few decades. it is baked in. so in that sense we have got to deal with climate change. and that's the tragic thing of what we are seeing around the world. it's notjust australia, it's not just around the world. it's notjust australia, it's notjust buyers, its droughts, its flood, it's all sorts of climate impacts, its health impacts on different communities around the world. so that's why there is such an urgency around climate action, that this is something that is not something that can be wished away or done away with one single shot, one bullet, one year, one decade. this is a transformation of the way we think about the world and the way we do business in the world, and the way we interact with one another around the world, and it is a decade—long agenda. what i am hopeful, what i see in australia, is the climate was
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i think see in australia, is the climate was ithinka see in australia, is the climate was i think a lessening. i think the more extreme voices i think a lessening. i think the more extreme voices are i think a lessening. i think the more extreme voices are becoming more extreme voices are becoming more muted. they are becoming thriller but they are becoming more insignificant. my senses that continue. people understand climate change is real. they feel it, and they know that, and they want things to be done. and i think the government's around the world are recognising that and certainly the australian government has and will. yes, ido australian government has and will. yes, i do think the australian government could be doing more on climate change, but they are signalling they will have another look, and i think that is very positive. patrick suckling, australia's former ambassador to the environment, thank you for being with us on hardtalk.
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hello there. temperatures are set to climb over the next few days, after what has been for some of us a brief taste of winter. there is still enough snow and indeed moisture lying on the ground to give the potential for some lying on the ground to give the potentialfor some icy lying on the ground to give the potential for some icy stretchers through wednesday morning, which could cause some travel problems. temperatures, as we start the day, around about freezing, dropping below freezing across parts of scotland. probably not quite as cold as it was on tuesday morning, but still cold enough for some frost and some ice. we start wednesday under the influence of a weak ridge of high pressure, so there will be some dry weather around. this frontal system, though, will introduce rain into the northern half of the uk as we go through the day. in fact, northern england, northern ireland and scotland, we will start off with some showers. still wintry over the highest ground here, and then the wet weather works its way in, scraping across the north of northern ireland, working into a good part of scotland, with some
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snow over high ground. in fact, before the day is done, parts of highland scotland could see a further ten centimetres of snow. perhaps something a little bit brighter across the far north of scotland. some very heavy rain developing across central and southern parts of scotland, and it will be quite windy here. some rain into northern ireland at times, certainly some of that rain getting down into northern england. more cloud into wales in the south—west, producing maybe the odd spot of rain and drizzle. but further east, through these midlands, east anglia, the south—east, holding onto some sunshine. and it's going to be milder than it has been. isa ten or 11 degrees. now, as we go through wednesday night, this rain will pull its way northwards across scotland stop further south, a lot of dry weather, yes, but an awful lot of cloud to roll its way in. could turn a little bit murky in places, damp and drizzly, but much, much milder. those are the temperatures as we start thursday morning. a bit of rain into the far south—west as well, you will notice. but all of that cloud coming up from the south—west. very moist and very mild
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airflow. see these orange colours spreading right across the chart, pushing the cold air away. so as we go through thursday, rain moving across scotland, some of it heavy, with some brisk winds. down towards the south, we keep a lot of cloud, the south, we keep a lot of cloud, the odd spot of drizzle, some slightly more persistent rain perhaps for a time for the far south of england in the channel islands, but look at the afternoon temperatures. double digits for most of us. 10 degrees in glasgow, 12, 13, easily down towards the south. asa 13, easily down towards the south. as a going to friday, we could see some outbreak of rain putting south—east wits, and some more rain later in the day as well into the north—west of scotland. it is another mild day, particularly down towards the south. it may be that temperatures drop a little bit in northern areas later in the day.
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this is newsday on the bbc. i'm rico hizon in singapore. the headlines: deserted cities as the death toll from coronavirus in china exceeds 130. foreign governments begin to evacuate their citizens. the promise of a united jerusalem. president trump lays out his plans for peace in the middle east — and one last chance for the palestinians. after 70 yea rs of little progress, this could be the last opportunity they will ever have. the proposals though are roundly rejected in ramallah — both by
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