Interview on Sunrise on Climate Change and COP 21 Paris

Sunrise, Channel 7

01 December 2015

INTERVIEWER: Our former prime minister, Kevin Rudd, has been a keen observer and joins us from Paris. Kevin, good to see you. Happy with how the talks are progressing?


KEVIN RUDD: If your interest is to get a decent outcome on climate change for the planet, this one I think has got a prospect of about 6 or 7 out of 10, in terms of delivering a good, substantive outcome. A lot can go wrong but we’re only about two days into a fourteen-day process, so fingers crossed mate.


INTERVIEWER: Kevin, despite the promise of financial help for Pacific countries, the President of Kiribati has accused Australia of not going in to bat for its neighbours at the talks. How does he get to that conclusion?


KEVIN RUDD: I don’t know, I haven’t seen what President Tong has said on that but there is a big debate ongoing here in Paris between what’s called the ‘Association of Small Island States’ (these are states which are threatened physically with going under, at least a number of them are) against those who are called for a less ambitious target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The debate is essentially, should you aim to keep temperature increases this century within an average of two degree centigrade against what they were in the pre-industrial period, or down to 1.5 degrees. Now this may seem all terribly technical for your viewing audience this morning. But when the meteorologists look at it and the scientists look at it, it does make a difference in terms of how far above or below the water line you are in 70 or 80 years time. So that’s what that debate is about.


INTERVIEWER: Kevin, your old mate Malcolm Turnbull now is in the top job, he’s keeping his Liberal dissenters under control in terms of climate change. Are you confident he might bring back a carbon pollution reduction scheme, similar to yours?


KEVIN RUDD: Part of my interest and why I’m here is that I have a long-standing commitment to getting, not just Australian action, but global action right on climate change. It’s important for our kids, and for our grandkids. I’ve got a granddaughter and her name is Josephine – love her very much. The key thing is, will Australia play its part, will be do out bit because we represent 1.3% of emissions? And will the rest of the world do the same?


When I look at what Mr Turnbull has done, I think he’s made a reasonable start. His indication that he will review the target commitment by Australia when we get round to the first review period in a few years’ time is good. But I also think Bill Shorten, from the Labor Party, has put some serious pressure on Mr Turnbull in order to make sure that our future target is as ambitious as possible. Whether Malcolm Turnbull can control some of the more interesting forces within the Liberal Party and the National Party remains to be seen.


INTERVIEWER: The nut-jobs in the party as you referred to them.


KEVIN RUDD: I did at one stage. Well on climate change, mate, they are.


INTERVIEWER: Malcolm Turnbull is doing very well in the polls regardless of what you think. The Liberals heavily criticized you and the Labor Party for three leadership coups. Do you think they were right to roll Tony Abbott?


KEVIN RUDD: You know something, one of the great joys of being liberated from Australian domestic politics is that I don’t have to get into those debates any more and I don’t intend to.


INTERVIEWR: So what are you doing now?


KEVIN RUDD: I just wish them all the best for their respective political futures. I’m concerned about the national interest and what I can do in a small way on things like climate change and reconciliation with aboriginal people and I’m sure Bill and Malcolm will sort it all out come the next election.


INTERVIEWER: Alright Kevin Rudd, thanks for joining us.