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March 8, 2021

Bishop heads climate talks

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Australian foreign minister Julie Bishop. (AFP Photo/Kena Betancur)
Australian foreign minister Julie Bishop. (AFP Photo/Kena Betancur)

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop used her few moments on the world stage at major climate talks in Paris to spruik the federal government’s new innovation package.

Despite being thousands of kilometres from Australia, Ms Bishop wrapped some domestic politics into her national statement to the United Nations climate change conference on Monday night (AEDT).

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on Monday revealed the $1.1 billion innovation package to encourage entrepreneurship and promote science, maths and computing in schools.

‘Today in Australia the prime minister launched a new national innovation and science agenda to place innovation at the heart of our economy,’ she told delegates in Paris.

‘By supporting and rewarding creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship Australia will lead by example in the way we invest in and use technology.’

It would be technological breakthroughs that would ultimately be the “game changers” in dealing with climate change, she said.

Ms Bishop also announced $625,000 in funding out to 2017 to promote women from the Pacific region into leadership roles in climate action.

‘Australia believes that harnessing the talents and abilities of this and the next generation of female leaders is not only the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do,’ she said.

She used her statement to spruik Australia’s renewable energy target – which requires 20 per cent of the nation’s energy to come from clean sources by 2020 – and the government’s “ambitious” 2030 emission reduction targets.

‘It will see us double the rate at which we reduce our emissions,’ she said.

Australia’s 2030 target of 26 to 28 per cent on 2005 levels has been criticised as lacking ambition and placing the country at the back of the developed nation pack in Paris.

Greens leader Richard Di Natale, who is in Paris for the summit, criticised Ms Bishop’s “bragging” about the RET – which the government slashed last year.

‘Weasel words and buzzwords aren’t fooling anyone,’ he said.

‘Australia has been a huge disappointment in these negotiations, and has let down those Australians who care about the climate.’

It’s hoped 196 parties will forge a historic agreement by the end of the week to curb emissions and limit global warming to at least two degrees, however many major issues remain unsolved with just days to go.

Ms Bishop may also have to spend some time sorting out a diplomatic quibble, with the Marshall Islands keen to confront her over a political blunder involving one of the nation’s sunken islands.

Australia’s foreign minister was left red-faced last week when she accused her domestic counterpart Tanya Plibersek of fabricating a story about an island which lies underwater.

Ms Bishop brandished a picture in parliament of another island Eneko, featuring houses, lawns and picnic tables to support her claim.

The whole saga boils down to the wrong island being included in an interview transcript.

The foreign minister took a dig at Ms Plibersek for authorising the incorrect official transcript, which she relied on in Parliament.

‘Let’s get some facts on the record because some seem to have a great deal of difficulty dealing with facts,’ Ms Bishop told reporters in Paris.

‘It transpires (the transcript) contains a shocking blunder.’

Marshall Islands Foreign Minister Tony de Brum believes Australians haven’t learnt not to “mess with” or make jokes about the threat of climate change to the Pacific Islands.

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