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UK minister dismisses Australia and Canada climate ‘alliance’

London wants leaders in Canberra and Ottawa to play ‘responsible proactive’ role in curbing global greenhouse gas emissions

By Ed King

UK climate and energy minister Greg Barker has laughed off suggestions the country could enter into an alliance against climate regulation with Australia and Canada.

According to reports from Australia, Prime Minister Tony Abbott wants to build a coalition of countries opposed to carbon pricing and a proposed global emissions reduction deal in 2015.

Speaking in London, Conservative minister Barker said there was no chance the government would join efforts to block international efforts to address climate change.

“I think you can take it the UK won’t be joining an alliance against regulation. We are engaged with Australia and New Zealand, encouraging them to take a responsible proactive part in seeking an ambitious global treaty on climate change,” he said.

“It was something the Prime Minister has raised on occasion with the Prime Minister of Australia. I think we do have a slight difference of view here, but we have very strong ties here and whatever discussion there is will be framed positively.”

India has also been mentioned as a possible partner blocking a global treaty, although this would make the country deeply unpopular with members of the G77 group of nations.

Polarised talks

Tony Abbott and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s tough stance on climate policies has seen the two countries increasingly isolated at UN negotiations.

Canada ditched the Kyoto Protocol in 2012, claiming it couldn’t meet the targets set by the world’s only legally binding climate treaty.

Australian diplomats were accused of mocking poorer countries during UN talks in Warsaw last November, attending meetings wearing shorts and t-shirts and ‘gorging on snacks’.

Both leaders have attacked efforts to price carbon, and have welcomed investments from companies in their burgeoning coal, oil and mineral extraction industries.

Abbott has also blocked moves to include climate change on the agenda of this year’s G20, which Australia will host, saying he wants to focus on economic growth.

Speaking earlier this week in Canada after meeting Harper he called for action that would not “clobber the economy”.

“We think that climate change is a significant problem. It’s not the only or even the most important problem the world faces but it is a significant problem and it’s important every country should take the action that it thinks is best to address emissions.”

Abbott meets US President Barack Obama on Thursday in what will be their first official meeting.

In an interview aired this week Obama repeated his belief that climate change could be the most significant long-term challenge the planet faces.

Earlier this month Washington rolled out new proposals targeting carbon pollution from power plants, aiming to cut emissions 30% on 2005 levels by 2030.

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  • aldonius

    As an Aussie, I’m so sorry.

    Good news is that this government should be gone next election or the one following (so 2-5 years). They got in mostly through dislike of our other major party, and have steadily proceeded to enact austerity-lite policies.

  • Jim Wright

    The UK is now part of the Socialist Communist block!

  • williamfisher

    On behalf of responsible Australians ( most of us are ) I wish to appoligize for the stupidity and ignorance of our Prime Minister. Mr Abbott is finding it increasingly difficult to find any one to take him seriously. ( There is however Mr Murdock but he is not Australian anymore )

    • Tim Thomson

      Apology accepted! See him off soon please before he does too much damage (eg Tasmanian forest, Gt Barrier Reef etc)

  • williamfisher

    What do canadians think about their centre right government?

    • Daryl

      As a Canadian, I’m don’t support everything our government does, but I’m fully supportive on this matter.

  • williamfisher

    Climate change is real but maybe not so apparent in an air conditioned government building or media empire head quarters.

  • ClimateLearner

    Three hearty cheers for Abbott and Harper. There is an urgent need for calmer, more levelheaded thinking about climate policies, and it seems to me they are encouraging that.

  • nigelf

    williamfisher, this Canadian likes this centre right government very much. Harper and Abbott aren’t about to be steamrolled by the global warming industry and any person who likes prosperity and freedom to choose has to agree.
    It’s nice to see sanity in an otherwise climate obsessed world.

  • MissMagoo

    The UK is led by zealots. Most of them are completely in the dark about climate and accept what they are told by false prophets. Which is the wrong side of the climate debate may well surprise our clueless leaders. Let’s take a measured and responsible line on carbon reduction in line with the reality of the changing climate rather than the hype.

    • Tim Thomson

      Not zealous enough unfortunately, and with highly suspect motives!