Tony Abbott 'Dumps Climate Change' on G20 Agenda; BHP Chief Supports Abbott

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By Reissa Su | June 6, 2014 6:58 PM EST

After U.S. Pres. Barack Obama's announcement of new major carbon pollution regulations, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has decided to take climate change off the G20 agenda. In December, Australia became the chair of the G20, which is a group composed of 20 countries having the biggest economies in the world.

REUTERS
A woman walks by a signboard showing flags of the participating countries for the upcoming G20 Seoul Summit at the venue of the summit in Seoul November 4, 2010.

The U.S. is Australia's most important foreign ally and previous governments before Abbott were in step with U.S. governments of the past. According to reports, Former Prime Minister John Howard had supported the Bush administration to refuse the approval of the Kyoto protocol. In contrast to Howard, Abbott does not have the same relationship with the U.S. president.

The Australian public has become skeptical of Abbott's regard for Obama that Twitter users began trending the hashtag #WhatAbbottwillsaytoObama. Most of the tweets were criticisms to the prime minister and the government's policies on climate change.

Worsening dry spells, fiercer heat waves and frequent bushfire seasons should be worrying Abbott and the Coalition government after CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology released the State of the Climate report. The two-year study has prompted calls for curbing carbon emissions from human activities. Greenhouse emissions are already at record levels. Climate scientists predicted the world will be 5 degrees hotter by 2070.

BHP Billiton Chief Executive Andrew Mackenzie has expressed his support for Abbott on his decision to forgo climate change in the agenda despite the country's image as "being disengaged" from the global climate change debate. The head of the world's largest miner said he doesn't think the move is a backward step and agreed with Abbott to focus more on other issues.

In March, the Coalition government has failed in its first attempt to repeal Australia's carbon tax. The Australian Labour Party and the Greens used their numbers to their advantage in the Senate to block the carbon tax repeal with 33 votes against 29.

The news of the block came following the Abbott government's immediate move to push a bill in the House of Representatives to abolish the Clean Energy Finance Corporation. The removal of the $10 billion agency is in line with the Coalition's plans to do away with the climate change policies of the previous government and push Abbott's Direct Action policy.

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(Photo: REUTERS / Truth Leem)
A woman walks by a signboard showing flags of the participating countries for the upcoming G20 Seoul Summit at the venue of the summit in Seoul November 4, 2010.
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