Australia’s Prime Minister Tony Abbott told G20 leaders that he is “standing up for coal,” and refused to put climate change on the G20’s agenda for its summit meeting last week, according to the Guardian.
The move left Australia’s government nearly isolated on the issue of climate change, both from the international community and from some of its own people.
As previously reported by the Inquisitr, over 400 people stuck their heads in the sand, mimicking an ostrich, at Australia’s Bondi Beach. The strange protest was against Abbott’s stance against climate change in the summit.
According to Al Jezeera, President Obama also criticized the prime minister and called on young Australians to let their voices be heard.
The president explained, “no nation is immune, and every nation has a responsibility to do its part.”
In a separate meeting, President Obama secured a climate change deal from Chinese leader Xi Jinping. Under the arrangement, the U.S. will cut carbon emissions by at least 26 percent of 2005 levels by 2030 and China will have to stop increasing carbon emissions by that same year.
Tony Abbott’s government was not moved by Obama’s climate change warning or its actions. Abbott’s coterie explained that Obama’s newly emboldened stance on climate change is the kind of political courage typical in a politician that doesn’t have to run for re-election.
As the Australia’s The Age reported, the phrase for Obama being used internally was “the lamest of lame-duck presidents.”
But Barack Obama wasn’t alone in his disapproval of Abbott’s climate change stance. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, a group of senior British Conservatives slammed Abbott’s position, saying that his attitude was “eccentric”, “baffling,” and “flat earther.”
The group warned that continuing to invest in coal posed huge risks and he would eventually come under market and political pressure to join the fight against climate change.
The Australian government does seem to be doubling down in its denial of climate change. They have repealed the carbon tax, abolished its own climate commission and slashed spending on renewable energy sources.
The only thing left of the government’s climate policy appears to be a $2 billion dollar subsidy to motivate businesses to cut their own emissions.
Still, Australia has a lot to lose from not utilizing its vast coal reserves. Coal remains one of Australia’s largest export commodities, and it’s already in trouble now that coal prices are at a 5-year low. That trouble for coal, and perhaps the Australian economy, could get worse as climate change fears push consumers to cleaner energy sources.
[Image Credit: Stephen Codrington/Wikimedia Commons]