News National Abbott ‘frozen’ on climate change: Labor

Abbott ‘frozen’ on climate change: Labor

Labor must seek to reclaim the bush, Anthony Albanese says.
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Labor’s Anthony Albanese has turned up the heat on the Abbott government following new data showing 2014 was the hottest year on record.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott can no longer ignore the evidence on climate change, the opposition environment spokesman says.

Data released on Saturday by NASA and the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association confirmed last year as the hottest 12 months since record-keeping began in 1880.

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Mr Albanese criticised the government for removing a cap on carbon pollution and the floundering renewable energy industry.

“Tony Abbott is frozen in time while the world warms around us,” he said.

Mr Albanese said the government must join climate change discussions before the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris.

“(The G20 was) a pathetic and embarrassing attempt to ensure there was indeed no discussion of climate change on the agenda, but of course that happened anyway,” he said.

Mr Albanese told reporters Labor would not reintroduce a carbon tax.

“But we’ve said very clearly, our principles are there … of having a price on carbon, having a cap on the amount of emissions.”

Environment Minister Greg Hunt rejected claims that a price on carbon would benefit emissions reduction targets.

“Emissions fell by six times the rate in the five years before the carbon tax than they did under the carbon tax,” he said.

“The ALP must make clear what will be the electricity slug they are proposing for Australian families and pensioners.”

In 2014, the average global temperature was 0.69C above the 20th century average, beating the previous record-holding years of 2005 and 2010 by 0.04C.

The international data came a week after the Bureau of Meteorology confirmed Australia in 2014 experienced its third hottest year – and hottest decade – on record.

Professor Will Steffen of the Climate Council said incidences of heatwaves, bushfires and other extreme weather in Australia are increasing.

“Climate change is a major factor in the increase in extreme heat that Australians have experienced over the last few decades,” Prof Steffen said on Saturday.

“Heatwaves are becoming hotter, longer and more frequent. This is worsening bushfire danger weather.”

The long-term warming trend has been driven by the increase of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, caused primarily by the burning of fossil fuels, he said.

Climate change groups say the NASA-NOAA data shows now is the time to act.

“Australians were right on the front line of climate change in 2014, experiencing deadly heatwaves, bushfires and other extreme weather,” said Victoria McKenzie-McHarg of the Australian Conservation Foundation.

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