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Cormann goes on front foot as Australia comes under fire at Davos


Jan. 21, 2020

Mr Trump called on participants to “reject the perennial prophets of doom and their predictions of apocalypse”, while Ms Thunberg took the forum to task for "doing nothing".
Mr Cormann called for cool heads to prevail. "It's very hard to talk objectively about an issue ... It's important to look at these things objectively, and assess them objectively so we can prepare our responses objectively," he told a later panel specifically on Australia's bushfire crisis.
Not every coalmine is a bad thing for the environment.
— Finance Minister Mathias Cormann
"If we had a mature global conversation on this we wouldn't be doing constant finger-pointing, we would actually be looking at how each country could best contribute given the natural attributes that respective countries have."
Asked if he endorsed Mr Trump's view that "this is not a time for pessimism, this is a time for optimism", Mr Cormann said: "I'm not a commenter on President Trump's beliefs. I was in the audience, I thought it was a great speech, a fantastic speech ... about the economic achievements of his government ."
On the second panel, Mr Cormann was challenged by Australian artist Lynette Wallworth and a retired Australian firefighter in the audience about the Morrison government's leadership on the issue.
He responded that Australia would perform better against its emissions reduction targets under the Kyoto and Paris climate agreements than the European Union, Canada, Japan and New Zealand. By 2030, on a per-capita basis it would halve emissions over the time period, and the reduction would be two-thirds if emissions were measured per unit of GDP output.
"We are guided by a desire to pursue policies that are environmentally effective and economically responsible and we believe we are doing our bit."
He also defended Australia's coal exports, saying they could make a contribution to reducing the path of greenhouse gas emissions.
"There is a global demand for coal, and if it's not met by cleaner Australian coal it will be met by comparatively dirtier coal from other sources and the world environment will be worse off," he said.
"Not every coalmine is a bad thing for the environment. When you have better quality coal compared to the alternative options that are available, you actually might be able to help the transition and provide better outcomes."
He said a historical perspective on Australia's current bushfires was required. "Yes, climate change is making things worse ... But we have also got to keep it in perspective. In a sense, Australia has always been a country that has suffered extreme weather events."
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