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Simon Leufstedt posted a article in Business & PoliticsJust weeks after being elected as Australia’s new Prime Minister, Tony Abbott has started his war against science and climate. Abbott, who have said that climate change "is absolute crap", has already dismantled the country’s climate commission and is now set to repeal the carbon tax that was introduced in 2011 by the former left-leaning government. The first victim of Abbott’s anti-science and anti-climate campaign was the country’s Climate Commission. The commission was established in 2011 with the goal to independently inform and communicate the dangers of climate change to the Australian public. The most recent report from the commission, titled The Critical Decade, warned that the world needs to essentially “decarbonise in the next 30 to 35 years” in order to avoid serious consequences from global. This means, as the report noted, that Australia would have to keep most of its fossil fuels in the ground. Abbott and his new conservative government estimates that the closure of the Climate Commission will save taxpayers $1.6 million a year, reduce bureaucracy. The government has also promised that the Department of Environment will instead continue with informing the public about climate change. But considering that Australia is the world’s biggest coal exporter, it’s not that hard to figure out the real reason to why Abbott wanted to shut down the independent commission. Christine Milne, opposition leader for the Greens in Australia, has said the decision shows Abbott’s "contempt for climate science and for the health and wellbeing of future generations." "Shooting the messenger does not alter the fact that Australia has to do a lot better than 5% in order to contribute fairly to the global challenge of constraining global warming to two degrees," Milne said to the Guardian. "Prime Minister Abbott has distinguished himself as one of the only leaders of a western democracy to deny the severity of global warming and to actively undermine infrastructure which is bringing down emissions." But the Climate Commission is not the only target for Abbott. Other bodies that are in the risk of being stripped of its funding are the Climate Change Authority, which provides independent advice on emissions reduction targets, and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, a renewable loan institute. It’s now painfully clear that, despite promises of the contrary, Abbott has no intentions of doing anything meaningful against the climate crisis. Mark Dreyfus, former parliamentary secretary for climate change and energy efficiency in Australia, writes on the Guardian that: “Abbott now seems determined to ensure that good policies implemented over the past six years by Labor are torn down as fast as possible, regardless of their economic merit, regardless of the negative impact this might have on the jobs and businesses that have been created…” Just a couple of days ago, Abbott did what he promised in his election campaign: he introduced a repeal bill to the Australian parliament that will scrap the country’s controversial carbon tax. "This is our bill to reduce your bills, to reduce the bills of the people of Australia," Abbott proclaimed. But critics say that Abbott is doing just the opposite. Adam Bandt, from the Greens in Australia, writes that "there’s nothing new about conservatives slowing down the pace of reform, offering paternal protection and preserving the status quo." But "global warming is already damaging the health and the way of life of ordinary Australians and unless we act those threats will become catastrophic. [...] If our prime minister truly wants to protect the Australian people, he must help fend off dangerous global warming, the country’s biggest ever threat." Abbott has campaigned with the promise of getting Australia back on track. But in reality he is moving Australia backwards. Photo credit: DonkeyHotey (cc).
Simon Leufstedt posted a article in Business & PoliticsThis past weekend Australians gave (with some help from Murdoch) Tony Abbott, the leader of the Australian Liberal Party, a landslide victory in the country's 2013 federal election. But environmentalists fear that the conservative leader, who has said that climate change "is absolute crap", will destroy decades of hard-fought environmental and climate policies. In 2009, Abbott said that "the argument [behind climate change] is absolute crap." Since then his climate denialism has softened up a bit. Now in 2013 he says that "I think that climate change is real, humanity makes a contribution." So instead of just bluntly denying climate change, Abbott now only denies the need to act on it. So it's no wonder that some commentators and environmentalists have likened Tony Abbott and his policies to the same anti-science and climate denying stances that Sarah Palin or Rick Santorum advocates. Abbott has already promised that, if elected, he will repeal the carbon tax that was introduced in 2011 by Julia Gillard and her former ruling Labor Party. The historic carbon-pricing legislation was supported by the Greens and has charged industries and energy companies for their emissions. Instead Abbott plans to replace the carbon-pricing legislation with his Direct Action program. The program is meant to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by five percent from the levels in 2000 by 2020. Abbott himself says that his climate policies will "take strong and effective action to tackle climate change, action that doesn't damage our economy." But critics say that even this meager reduction target will be impossible to reach. Among others, George Monbiot has said that the Direct Action program "is incapable of delivering the cuts it promises, absurdly underfunded and surrounded by a swarm of unanswered questions." "Were it to become big enough to meet its promises, it would be far more expensive than a comparable carbon trading scheme, which Abbott has falsely claimed would incur "almost unimaginable" costs. But it won't be big enough, because he refuses to set aside the money it requires. Direct Action is a program designed to create a semblance of policy, in the certain knowledge that it will fail to achieve its objectives," Monbiot writes. Australia is the world's biggest coal exporter and despite commitments from Australia to limit global warming to below two degrees, the country's coal export are planned to expand by more than double current levels in the coming years. Both Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard from the Labor Party has rightfully received criticism for their inaction on climate change. But with Tony Abbott as the new Prime Minister, the climate outlook in Australia looks even bleaker than before.