Outside this window, 235 years ago, 11 ships sailed through those magnificent heads.
Barangaroo, and her husband Bennelong lived on the point across the water from here, which now bears his name.
The lives of Barangaroo, who is now honoured not far from here, her husband Bennelong, who is honoured on the point just across the way, and the lives of all first peoples were changed indelibly and forever.
Later this year, our country will have the opportunity for our most significant act of reconciliation, recognising our First Peoples in our constitution and providing them with an enshrined voice to their government.
This is an opportunity for Australia to show ourselves, and to show the world that modern Australia honours and cherishes our first peoples and it is important to our country to partner with them as we work to eradicate disadvantage.
Welcome and acknowledgements
Well, thank you to ASPI for convening this important Raisina @Sydney Dialogue.
At the outset, I also want to recognise and honour the Minister for External Affairs, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar.
Not only are you the foreign minister of an important friend, but you should be acknowledged as one of the most thoughtful and impactful thinkers and thought leaders on matters of global importance in our complicated region.
Your book “The India Way: Strategies for an Uncertain World” is important not just for those of us with a deep interest in India but also for those of us more broadly engaged in thinking about the role of middle powers at a time of bi-polar geopolitical contest.
The fact that this is your second visit to Australia in six months, in a crowded schedule of international engagements, shows a real commitment to our bilateral relationship which we deeply appreciate.
The Prime Minister is very much looking forward to his bilateral visit to India in March, and I predict discussions on climate and energy will figure prominently in the discussions between Prime Minister Modi and Prime Minister Albanese which of course, I will very much welcome.
India – a climate leader
It’s an excellent year for India to chair the G20 - and from my point of view, also chair the Clean Energy Ministerial, an important partnership of the world’s key economies working together to accelerate the global energy Transformation.
There is some disagreement among statisticians as to whether India has just become the world’s most populous country or is going to become the world’s most populous country in the coming month or so.
But there can be no doubt that India is this year taking its place at the top of the population mountain.
The theme of India’s G20 Presidency – “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam”, “One Earth - One Family - One Future” – to me is an indication of the importance of India places on connected sustainability. And of course, there is no more important element of ensuring continued sustainability than tackling climate change.
I acknowledge the enormous efforts India has put into the meeting of the first Energy Transition Working Group, and the generous spirit it has brought as a host.
And I am very much looking to attending the Clean Energy Ministerial and G20 Energy Ministers meeting in Goa and the G20 Environment Minister’s stream in Chennai.
I want to make this point very clearly, there is no stronger supporter of India’s G20 chairmanship than Australia, and we look forward to not just supporting you, but partnering with you in this important leadership role.
I welcome Minister Puri’s message at India Energy Week last week that India will use the presidency to not only give resonance to the voice of developing and underdeveloped countries, but to – and I quote – “highlight the common concerns of energy security, energy justice, and sustainable energy transition so that all developing countries can gain reliable and clean energy.”
Because when it comes to the response to the climate crisis and the massive energy transformation, I see India and Australia as key partners.
This partnership between India and Australia has already begun. I had the privilege of co-chairing with Minister Bhupender Yadav, the climate finance negotiations at COP27 – a critical piece of work in our wider region.
And Energy Minister RK Singh came to Australia just six months ago to represent India at the Sydney Energy Forum, where we also stepped up our respective countries engagement on the energy security challenge through the Quad Energy Ministers’ meeting.
I was impressed by RK and India’s incredible focus and thought leadership on improving solar panel efficiency – which is critical to both our countries success in the renewable transformation. And we were lucky enough to get to show off the Australian ingenuity at the birthplace of the modern solar panel - the University of NSW School of Photovoltaic and Renewable Energy.
India’s Chairmanship of the G20 and hosting of the CEM is an opportunity to take our partnership, and, speaking frankly, India’s climate leadership, to new levels.
And I agree with Fatih Birol, President of the IEA, who said that India: “can help drive the global agenda on clean energy transitions and energy security, with its focus on addressing technology gaps, ensuring diversified supply chains, scaling up clean fuels for the future, and mobilising investment.”
We have already started in earnest:
- The Australia-India Letter of Intent on New and Renewable Energy Technology is deepening our research and industry linkages on solar PV manufacturing and deployment, and hydrogen electrolysers
- Together we are working together to progress our collaboration. Both Australia and India are setting ambitious targets for the deployment of renewable technology, particularly solar.
Between Australia’s R&D, clean technology expertise, and rich resources, and India’s manufacturing scale, there is great opportunity for us to work together on our shared ambition to massively scale up technology needed for the transformation already underway.
Today I’d like to focus on two particularly important areas of collaboration between Australia and India – especially with India’s G20 presidency this year.
Firstly, the urgent need for collaboration between all likeminded countries on renewable energy supply chains. And then secondly, the equally urgent need for greater effort from our multilateral development banks on climate funding.
The nexus between the global energy crisis – sparked by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – and the significant, and urgent, need to scale up renewable energy production and capacity in the coming years, serve as an important backdrop for today’s strategic discussion.
But equally, we need strong and resilient supply chains to achieve this.
Quite simply, the global shift to cleaner energy cannot entrench energy insecurity by locking in reliance on limited supply chains.
We cannot swap one over reliance in world energy supply chains (Russian gas) with over-concentrated renewable energy supply chains.
Energy security requires supply chain security and with that means resilient and diverse clean energy supply chains accompanied by diversity of potential supplies.
As the IEA have noted in their latest 2023 Energy Technology Perspectives report, heavy concentration in supply chains increases the risk that localised disruptions that could create supply chain bottlenecks and delay global efforts to accelerate the clean energy transition.“…there are potentially risky levels of concentration in clean energy supply chains – both for the manufacturing of technologies and the materials on which they rely.” (IEA, Energy Technology Perspectives, p20-21)
New manufacturing value chains provide some diversity away from the current concentration of key supply chains.
But the scale of the energy transformation and expected demand for renewables means we will also need clean energy supply chain expansion throughout the whole Indo-Pacific region.
This would ensure not only greater security in clean energy supply chains – but that countries in the region can play to their strengths and ensure a more equitable seizing of the economic opportunities of the transformation.
This is why it is critical that India and Australia continue to engage with our partners in the Indo-Pacific.
We are currently working through the Quad on constructive approaches for elevating clean energy manufacturing in the region, and I know India has interest in using its G20 hosting year to further advance discussions on this important topic.
The Indo-Pacific region is responsible for 60 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, and as a South Asian country, the decarbonization of India will have a huge impact on the Indo-Pacific region.
With renewable electricity growing at a faster rate in India than any other major economy – supply chain diversification will be critical to this continued growth.
Let me put it simply, in Australia we want to manufacture more elements essential to the renewable energy transformation, whether it is inverters, transformers, batteries or solar panels.
But we also want India and other trusted and reliable partners making more things too because diverse supply is good supply.
It’s in all our interests to make that a reality, and I know this work will feature prominently in Quad discussions and would welcome it featuring prominently in the G20.
As I have noted, the transformation to a renewable economy is the biggest economic change in the world since the Industrial Revolution.
But we are necessarily undertaking this transformation at a faster pace than our forefathers.
To have the best chance of holding the world as close as possible to 1.5 degrees of warming, we need to maximise emissions reduction between now and 2030. Friends, 2030 is 83 months away. That is not long.
To engineer this massive economic transformation in this short period of time, we need to be “All in”.
Governments of all levels.
National, regional and local.
Civil society, trade unions, industry. All of us working together on this massive transformation.
AND multilateral international organisations.
Multilateral development banks cannot be passengers on this journey. We need them stepping up much more.
At COP27 in Egypt, in my National Statement, I made the point that our international financial architecture was built for a different time.
I was pleased the cover decision included reference to multilateral development banks to define a new model fit for the purpose of addressing the global climate emergency.
This reflects the growing calls for change as exemplified by the Barbadian Prime Minister’s important Bridgetown Initiative.
These are important words. But this year, we must see more than words. We must see action and progress.
In particular, while public sector investment is important, it is much more impactful if it leverages additional private sector investment.
In 2021, every dollar of climate finance by MDBs generated 25c of new private finance.
We can surely do better than that.
I think countries like India and Australia could work together to develop and promote practical, achievable and verifiable improvements in the way MDBs do their work.
I have been impressed by the level of commitment from the Asian Development Bank to working across our region on energy transition.
However we have not seen that same level of commitment across the board.
I note the news this past week that the current President of the World Bank will leave his position early.
This provides an opportunity to reset leadership at the Bank and ensure the centrality of the climate challenge is at the core of their work.
Now neither the G20 or the COP are decision makers when it comes to MDB governance: that is a matter for their respective boards.
But both G20 and the COP are unparalleled opportunities for likeminded countries to make their views and expectations crystal clear.
We expect MDBs to be stepping up to the task and we expect to see real action.
When I first visited India as a tourist in 1998, I fell in love with the country.
I have been back so many times that to be completely honest with you, I have lost count.
When I was in Goa twenty-five years ago, I already knew I would be returning often.
But little did I realise or contemplate that twenty-five years later, I would be back, collaborating on the challenge of our time.
We know, the Indian and Australian Governments how high the stakes are.
We have both been ravaged by natural disasters in recent times:
- Last year India saw extreme weather events across the country during 80 per cent of the year, including the May floods which caused loss of life and significant loss of crops
- In Australia – 68 per cent of Australians were living in an area that was covered by a natural disaster declaration in 2022 – with some areas experiencing back-to-back flooding and continuous displacement.
Our nations don’t just know what will happen if we don’t act on climate change, we are feeling those impacts now.
Natural disasters are becoming more severe, more frequent and increasingly less natural.
Our populations already deal with heat on a daily basis.
But rising heat and prolonged heatwaves have huge health implications, particularly for our elderly and our less well-off.
So we both have an imperative for action.
We have a reason, the will and the ability to collaborate.
And I very much look forward to doing just that this year.