New Zealand and UK Not Joining Tony Abbott's Alliance to Block Global Climate Change Agenda

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Australia's Prime Minister Abbott speaks during session of World Economic Forum in Davos
Australia's Prime Minister Tony Abbott speaks during a session at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos January 23, 2014. REUTERS/Ruben Sprich

After Australia's Prime Minister Tony Abbott expressed his intentions of seeking an alliance with "like-minded" nations to counter U.S. President Barack Obama's climate change agenda, the conservative climate and energy minister of the UK has rejected the idea.

Greg Barker said the UK government is unlikely to side with Australia in opposing carbon price and challenge a push by Pres. Obama to create stronger international regulations to address climate change.

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key said he was caught off-guard by Mr Abbott's plan and suggested his country will not scrap its emissions trading scheme as part of its climate change policy.

With the UK and New Zealand out of the question, reports said Canada, with Prime Minister Stephen Harper at the helm, may be Australia's only possible ally on the matter.

On June 11, Barker told British reporters that the UK government will not stand with Australia in its efforts to block international regulation of carbon emissions. He said the UK has always been active in encouraging Australia and New Zealand to be proactive in seeking for a global climate change treaty.

The British climate and energy minister said the issue was something Prime Minister David Cameron has brought up with Mr Abbott. He admitted they have a "slight difference in view" but Australia and UK continue to have strong ties. Barker is confident that any discussion will be considered positively.

Earlier in 2014, Mr Cameron said he believes man-made climate change is a "serious threat" the world continues to face.

Echoing the sentiment, Mr Obama and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said political leaders need to recognise that climate change is the "most significant" issue the planet is facing. 

According to earlier reports, Mr Obama has imposed strict regulations on emissions that required coal-fired power plants to reduce them by 30 per cent by 2030. The U.S. president also preferred carbon pricing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions but he has been unable to rally the support of "hostile" Republicans.

In contrast, Mr Abbott has expressed repeatedly that climate change is not the most important problem in the world and he was not going to take any action that would "clobber" Australia's economy.

When reporters asked Mr Abbott if he was going to challenge Mr Obama on the issue of climate change, he said he will be "pointing to the scale" of what Australia has been doing as proof that the country does take climate change seriously.

In New Zealand, a spokesperson for Mr Key said the prime minister has not spoken to Mr Abbott of a five-country alliance and added that climate change is a serious issue for the government. New Zealand is one of the first countries to introduce an emissions trading scheme. 

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