Launch of the France-Australia Centre for Energy Transition

  • Speech, check against delivery

I acknowledge the Wurundjeri People of the Kulin Nation, the Traditional Owners of the land on which we meet.

I pay my respect to Elders, past and present.

I also acknowledge other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people here today.

In 1908, after laying the foundation stone for the college which we now call Swinburne, Victorian Premier Sir Thomas Bent told the audience:

'I take this opportunity of saying to the people of Hawthorn that they have commenced a building which will be the nucleus of something much bigger.'

I think we can all agree he was right.

Although with all due respect to Sir Thomas, I don't know if he could have anticipated that in another century or so, Swinburne would have added so extensively to its original classes in subjects like woodworking and mathematics…

…And be at the forefront of energy transition and supply chain decarbonisation research, technologies, commercialisation, and industry engagement.

I'm honoured to be here at Swinburne University today with Minister Colonna to launch the France-Australia Centre for Energy Transition.

Yesterday, Minister Colonna and Minister Wong launched the Australia-France bilateral roadmap, based on the three pillars of defence and security, resilience and climate action, and education and culture.

Australia, like France, takes the climate crisis very seriously.

The Pacific Island countries have long warned that climate change was an existential threat.

This is recognised in the Pacific Island Forum's Boe Declaration of Regional Security – including the reaffirmation that:

'Climate change remains the single greatest threat to the livelihoods, security and wellbeing of the peoples of the Pacific'…

…As well as in the Pacific Islands Forum's commitment to progress the implementation of the Paris Agreement.

Domestically, in our region, and globally, Australia and France are taking ambitious action to address the climate crisis…

…To build climate resilience and adaptation efforts…

…And to keep 1.5 degrees within reach.

There's so much our two countries can do together in this space.

Australian hydrogen, critical minerals, wind and solar industries have the potential to provide France clean power through reliable supply chains.

Australia-based company Power Ledger is working with France's ekWateur to bring hundreds of thousands of French energy consumers choice in their own energy mix using the companies' blockchain-enabled technology.

And companies like France's Neoen are playing a leading role in the energy transition globally, pioneering big batteries in Australia.

The Centre we're launching today will strengthen our cooperation on the energy transition…

…And is part of our broader commitment to elevate Indo-Pacific expertise, dialogue and to address shared strategic challenges.

France, of course, is part of the Indo-Pacific…

…And one of Australia's closest neighbours.

New Caledonia is just 700km north of Norfolk Island – about the same distance from Melbourne to Sydney.

And so, the Centre will support joint proposals from universities and research and technology institutions from Australia, France and the wider Indo-Pacific region…

…As well as small and medium enterprises and start-ups.

It will also convene experts from across the region.

The United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres said just last week that we need to fire the starting gun at COP28 on a race to keep 1.5 alive.

This comes as the World Meteorological Association declares that 2023 will be the hottest year on record - a full month before the year has even ended.

We're only going to keep breaking those records unless we take action.

The launch of this Centre marks a step in the right direction – as is the Australia-France bilateral roadmap.

Importantly, the Centre will be global in its application, because climate change is a global threat.

There's a lot we can do together, and a lot that we must do together, if we're serious about tackling the climate crisis.

And we're more than ready to do that work.

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