Interview on COP21

BBC World Service

30 November 2015

INTERVIEWER: Let’s go back to Paris now and talk to the former Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, who’s live with us on the BBC World Service. Mr Rudd, thank you for your time, thanks for joining us. You said earlier in the year that this really comes down to the US, China and India wanting a solution on carbon emissions. Is there any chance of that?


KEVIN RUDD: As far as the US is concerned, yes, and that is a change from Copenhagen. As far as China is concerned, yes, and that is a very big change from Copenhagen. As for India, we will wait and see because there have been different signals out of New Delhi. On balance I would agree with David Attenborough, there is a reasonable basis for optimism.


INTERVIEWER: The signals that we’re reporting in the news this morning from India are of India saying it’s basically down to other countries.


RUDD: Well if you speak to the government in New Delhi there are a range of views on this question. What the Indians are confronting is that they are at a different stage of industrial development to the Chinese. The Chinese maximum carbon intensive period of industrialization has happened between 1980 and 2010, 2015. India comes about 30 years behind that. The challenge for us, therefore, is to work with India to bring about the maximum carbon friendly industrialization processes. And that depends in large part on technology.


INTERVIEWER: When you were trying to get environmental measures through parliament in Australia you faced political opposition. And that’s why the world leaders who are there with you in Paris now have been talking about this for 20 years and getting nowhere, because in the end it always comes down to domestic self-interest doesn’t it?


RUDD: Well in global negotiations you’re always going to have domestic lobbies who hate action on climate change because it affects their back pocket or their corporate pocket. And you’ve got those who try to glance into the future and see what alternative climate change options are there for us. If you look over the last five years though, if we were simply to say it was going to be business as usual and no one taking any action on climate change then we’d be on course for a 4 to 5 degree temperature increase this century. If the commitments currently registered in Paris are honoured over the next period then in fact that number comes down to between 2.6 and 3.4 degrees centigrade, depending on who you believe in the projections. So some progress but not enough.


INTERVIEWER: And what’s this week about – making sure those commitments that have already been made are honoured or going further?


RUDD: It’s to do two things, in my judgement. One is to ensure that these commitments are enshrined in an international document. These are called nationally determined commitments. But also to have a regular review mechanism agreed, I would argue at least every five years, so that those commitments can be increased as more science comes in and the effectiveness of what has been done is measured. The third thing is to entrench a global system of measurement, reporting and verification so we keep everyone honest.


INTERVIEWER: Just finally Kevin Rudd, give us a sense of what it’s like to be in the city this morning. We can hear a lot of busyness around you, we can hear sirens behind you. I know there’s been a real impact of what’s happening there on the public transport system in Paris. Just give us a feel for it there.


RUDD: What impresses me about Paris only a few weeks after the appalling terrorist attacks is the Parisians’ determination and the French Government’s determination to proceed with maximal normality in holding this important climate change conference rather than concede a victory to terrorists. But on the streets it’s very, shall I say, security intense. That’s why I’m speaking to you outside the Place de la Concorde next to a pillar because all public transport is in trouble and all private transport is rendered redundant.


INTERVIEWER: Kevin Rudd, thank you for being with us. Kevin Rudd, former Australian Prime Minister, live on the BBC World Service.