Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has accused the Abbott Government of trying to silence the G20 summit on the issue of climate change.
Mr Shorten says Prime Minister Tony Abbott should be taking a greater lead on climate change when world leaders are discussing carbon emissions at the G20, the ABC reports.
“We’ve seen him desperately and furiously behind the scenes ask and shush and hush everyone from talking about climate change,” he said.
Earlier, Australia’s senior government ministers questioned the likelihood of US President Barack Obama in fulfilling promises he has made on climate change, including an emissions agreement with China, Fairfax is reporting.
Mr Obama put Australians Prime Minister Tony Abbott under enormous pressure in putting climate change back on the agenda at the G20 summit in Brisbane during a speech to university students.
But Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said the US President has not been successful in getting his climate change policy through a hostile US Congress, and was likely ‘legacy-building’ in his statements about climate change.
“I think President Obama has an eye on the next two years … and he’d be thinking about his legacy,” she told Network Ten.
“The big issue, of course, will be whether countries take the step from making statements about what they’re going to do, to actually committing to legally binding targets and commitments – that’s what happened in the Copenhagen conference,” she said.
“It was all very well to talk about it, but people didn’t commit to legally binding targets that would be backed by legally enforceable penalties,” she said.
Federal Treasurer Joe Hockey, who admitted Australia did not want climate change on the G20 agenda, defended claims that budget was the only barrier to battling climate change.
Asked if climate change was an impediment to growth, Mr Hockey rejected the charge.
“No. No, I don’t, absolutely not, I mean you just look at China, China is going to increase emissions until 2030,” he told the ABC.
Late last week US President Barack Obama shirt-fronted Tony Abbott on climate change at the G20 leaders summit in Brisbane, Labor leader Bill Shorten says.
After striking a deal with China to slash emissions last week, Mr Obama stole the limelight on Saturday when he urged developed countries to do their bit in the “global fight” against climate change.
In a direct appeal to Australia, the president warned natural wonders like the Great Barrier Reef were under threat and urgent action was needed from all.
Mr Obama also announced the US would give $US3 billion ($A3.3 billion) to the United Nations’ Green Climate Fund to help poorer countries deal with the impacts of climate change, such as rising seas, higher temperatures and extreme weather.
G20 latest: Australians literally bury their heads in the sand over Tony Abbott’s refusal to put climat… http://t.co/iILJmuHN2E (Indp)
— Thus Spake (@thus_spake) November 13, 2014
Obama address making Abbott look weak on climate change. Deafening silence from Libs in the room #G20
— Wayne Swan (@SwannyQLD) November 15, 2014
Mr Shorten said the prime minister had wanted to avoid talk of climate change at the Brisbane meeting.
“There was a lot of talk about shirt-fronting coming up to this G20 – it would appear that in the nicest and most articulate way, Barack Obama has shirt-fronted Tony Abbott and said `Come on Australia, lift your game’,” Mr Shorten told Sky News from the G20 forum.
“As I’ve been meeting with world leaders, they all believe that we should be talking about climate change.”
Treasurer Joe Hockey said he did not accept that climate change was one of the biggest impediments to economic growth.
“No. Absolutely not,” Mr Hockey said.
He said economic reform needed to take priority over dealing with carbon emissions.
“We cannot afford to deal with climate change if governments are in recession or if countries are facing huge structural challenges,” he said.
The treasurer said China was going to increase its carbon emissions until 2030, despite a deal with the United States to act together on climate.
“Australia is doing the same amount of work on climate change as the United States over a 30-year period,” Mr Hockey said.
“What we are focused on is growth and jobs and we want people to have the jobs that give them the chance to have an income, that give them a chance in many parts of the world to lift themselves out of poverty.”
He said US President Barack Obama was yet to get his deal with China through a hostile Congress.
“So far he hasn’t had great success.”