Tony Abbott vs. Barack Obama: Differences in Climate Change Policies to Affect G20 Meeting

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By Reissa Su | June 12, 2014 6:01 PM EST

As climate change continues to affect global economies, the environment and weather patterns, the gulf between world leaders, U.S. President Barack Obama and Australia Prime Minister Tony Abbott, is looming on the horizon.

REUTERS
Australia's Prime Minister Tony Abbott (L) rings the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange June 10, 2014.

Obama said in a recent television interview that climate change may be the "most significant" long-term problem in the world. According to reports, his statements only highlighted the differences between the two leaders. Meanwhile, Abbott has insisted climate change is not the most important issue facing the planet today.

As the two world leaders are about to meet in their first formal meeting together in Washington on June 12, the differences between their positions on the issue of climate change have become clear to many.

According to diplomatic sources and reports, the president of the most powerful nation in the world will not back down on climate change.

Obama has moved to increase diplomatic pressure to work on a new international agreement on curbing greenhouse gas emissions in 2015 and revealed new regulations to force the reduction of emissions from U.S. power stations.

The Guardian reported on Obama's interview with New York Times Columnist Thomas Friedman weeks ago. The president said "the science is compelling" on the issue of climate change. The American president has recognized climate change as the most significant long-term challenge the world faces.

But Abbott had a different view on the matter. In an interview on June 10, the Australian leader agreed that climate change is a significant global issue but he said it's "not the most important issue" the world faces today.

Abbott said Australia will do its part to address climate change but he is not going to "clobber our economy" and lose jobs over a "job-killing carbon tax."

When Obama was asked in an interview if he felt like "going off like a Roman candle" at climate change deniers in politics, the president said "Er..yeah" and added the public will see greater frequency of the extreme weather events. He added people will soon see the "economics of inaction" and start listening to politicians who try to address the problem.

Denying Climate Change

Abbott has previously denied the link between extreme weather events and climate change. He did not believe climate change was the culprit when Australia had experienced severe bushfires and heatwaves in 2013. The prime minister said the fires were only a "function of life in Australia."

U.S. officials are paving the way for climate change to be included in the G20 meeting in Brisbane in November but Abbott has taken steps to thwart their efforts.

Former U.S. Vice-president Al Gore told Fairfax Media, "Mother Nature has a louder voice than Tony Abbott."

He said history will not be kind to those who "stand in the way of climate action."

Gore, who won the Nobel Prize for his work in climate change activism, said he was aware of Abbott's view of climate change and Australian government's scrapping of funds from organizations working for climate change action. 

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(Photo: REUTERS / BRENDAN MCDERMID)
Australia's Prime Minister Tony Abbott (L) rings the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange June 10, 2014.
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