/ languages

Choisir langue

Australia - Climate change

Climate-change doubter takes head of Australian opposition

Article published on the 2009-12-01 Latest update 2009-12-01 16:09 TU

Tony Abbott(Photo: Reuters)

Tony Abbott
(Photo: Reuters)

Australia's opposition Liberal Party has picked a right-wing climate-change sceptic as its leader. Tony Abbott has pledged to block a government-backed carbon emissions bill as Prime Minister Kevin Rudd prepares to play a key role at the Copenhagen Climate Conference.

"Now that Tony Abbot and the extreme right have taken over the opposition it's difficult to see legislation passing the Australian parliament," says Green Senator Bob Brown.

Reaction: Bob Brown, leader of Australia's Green Party

01/12/2009 by Judith Prescott

The Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) aims to reduce Australia's carbon emmissions by up to 25 per cent lower than 2000 levels by 2020.

Industry and farming lobbies oppose it and some opposition politicians claim the legislation could damage the economy. Previous Liberal leader Malcolm Turnbull was ousted in a party revolt because he supported the proposal.

Brown, who describes the ETS as "very weak legislation", says that the country's two main right-wing parties have formed a bloc against it.

"The lead speech given in the Senate a few hours ago was left to the extreme-right National Party with whom Mr Abbott's Liberals are in coalition," he told RFI. "And it is an indication of how the coalition has drifted to the extreme right of politics in Australia."

Abbott won the Liberal leadership by 42 votes to 41. At the news conference to announce his election he described his earlier dismissal of climate-change science as "crap" as "a bit of hyperbole".

But he said he would fight ETS.

"The last thing we should be doing is rushing through a great big new tax just so Kevin Rudd can take a trophy to Copenhagen," he said.

Rudd has been asked to be a "friend of the chair", which is a deal-broking role, at Copenhagen. One of his first acts when elected in 2007 was to ratify the Kyoto protocol on global warming.

The world is way behind targets for carbon emissions reduction, according to a study released on Tuesday by accounting firm PriceWaterhouseCoopers.

It says that global emissions are well over what is need to keep within a "budget" of total emissions of 1,300 billion tonnes from 2000-2050. The figure is judged necessary to avoid the worst of climate change.

For 2000-2008 the total "carbon debt" is about 13 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide, the study says, "roughly equivalent to the annual carbon emissions of China and the United States  combined in 2008".






Bookmark and Share