Australian PM Abbott to skip UN climate summit
Sydney: Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who recently abolished a carbon tax on greenhouse gas emissions, said today he would skip a United Nations climate change summit attended by 125 other world leaders.
Abbott will be in New York soon after the September 23 talks but has decided to miss the one-day meeting to attend parliament in Canberra.
“My first duty in a sense is to the Australian parliament and that’s where I’ll be early in the week,” the conservative leader said of why he was not attending.
“There are quite a lot of things happening in the Australian parliament in the next week or so,” he said. The government has plans to introduce new anti-terror legislation to the legislature.
Australia will be represented by Foreign Minister Julie Bishop at the summit called by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to try to build momentum ahead of the 2015 deadline for a historic climate deal to be signed in Paris.
United States President Barack Obama is expected to attend the talks which the UN said yesterday had attracted more heads of state and government than the 2009 Climate Change Summit in Copenhagen.
“It’s of course a pity that not everyone is going,” the EU’s Commissioner for Climate Action Connie Hedegaard told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
“I think that at least 125 heads of state have sent a strong signal to the rest of the world.”
Hedegaard said it was for Australians to judge what Abbott’s decision not to attend meant.
“Of course the world will interpret who is showing up and who will not be showing up, so that’s for your prime minister and your government to decide what kind of profile do they want to have in this,” she said.
“I believe that more and more heads of state around the planet realise that although a lot of good things are going on, the sad fact is that climate change is worsening almost by the day.”
The UN is seeking to limit global warming to two degrees Celsius over pre-Industrial Revolution levels, but scientists say that on current emission trends, temperatures could be double that by the century’s end.
Abbott, who once said climate change science was “absolute crap”, has committed his government to reducing Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions to 5.0 per cent below 2000 levels by 2020.