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Tony Abbott names top 4 global crisis. Forgets the whole ‘climate change’ caper.

By ALYS GAGNON

Last week was a pretty big week for climate change on the world stage.

The United Nations held a Climate Summit, where the leaders of the world came together to plan how to tackle climate change.

It was a summit that Prime Minister Tony Abbott failed to attend. He arrived on Wednesday for other UN Business, and gave an address to the General Assembly on the Thursday.

In his address Mr Abbott listed, “all our [global] problems, the murderous rage of ISIL in Syria and Iraq, Russian aggression in Ukraine, the spread of Ebola in West Africa and the stubborn sluggishness of many economies”.

But where was climate change?

About five minutes into the speech where Mr Abbott boasted about abolishing the carbon tax as an example of taking leadership on the global stage.

For a while there, Australia did quite a bit to take action on climate change. Former Prime Minister John Howard was planning an emissions trading scheme. We ratified the Kyoto Protocol, a global agreement from the late 90s to take action on climate change. We have some pretty good programs to support people to install renewable energy sources in their homes. We have a renewable energy target, a scheme that encourages energy producers to move to more renewable energy sources like wind or solar power.

And we had the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme – a market based carbon pricing mechanism. It was a scheme that would see the biggest polluters pay per tonne of carbon emitted into the atmosphere, with compensation provided to low and middle income holders to offset any cost of living increases. The Scheme encouraged businesses to adapt to a changing environment and to find new and innovative ways of doing business – being good business and good environmental citizens all at once.

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But things have changed a bit, and the rest of the world seems to have noticed. 

Australia was once considered a global leader on climate action. We are being called the dirtiest polluter in the developed world, the Saudi Arabia of the Pacific.

Not only are we undoing all our hard work to act on climate change, but we are expanding our coal exports into new markets, building new mines and tearing up environmental protections. Our renewable energy target is at serious risk of being cut and our Prime Minster is using Australia’s position as the host of the G20 this year to actively push climate change off the global agenda.

There are over 35 national jurisdictions and over 20 state or regional jurisdictions which now have carbon price schemes in place, including China, India, Ireland, New Zealand, Europe, and the United Kingdom. 

In 2009, when still a Shadow Minister, Mr Abbott publicly claimed that the science of climate change was “absolute crap”.

In contrast, the President of the United States is leading the charge in his own country to take action on climate change. When speaking about the need to urgently act on climate change, Barack Obama told the UN General Assembly on Wednesday that, “we cannot condemn our children and their children to a future that is beyond their capacity to repair.”

From Barack Obama’s Twitter account

To see Prime Minister Abbott boast on the international stage boasting about doing away with action on climate change, well, I am just plain embarrassed.

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