Climate skeptic Tony Abbott toppled as Australian Prime Minister

Australia’s new Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. Photo credit: David Gray / Reuters
By Anders Lorenzen

He survived several leadership challenges, but this week, Tony Abbott, who had become an increasingly unpopular Prime Minister, even within his own party, was toppled. The ousting was done by Malcolm Turnbull who himself was ousted as leader of the Liberal Party by Abbott. Abbott then went on to become Prime Minister.

Abbott had become unpopular both in and outside of Australia. One of the reasons being his stance on climate change. While being skeptical about the reality of man made climate change, he famously claimed that coal was good for humanity and had also led a war on wind turbines; calling them visually awful. In July, the Australian government banned their green investment bank from small scale solar and wind investment.

Abbott particularly clashed with environmentalists, green groups and the international community for abolishing carbon tax, and for approving what would be the world’s largest coal port, which would cause dredging of the Great Barrier Reef – already under threat from climate change.

Though it is unlikely to have contributing to the ousting, one of Abbott’s last actions was when he was last week overheard on mic joking about sea level rises in the Pacific.

Although Australia’s current climate policies are unlikely to change under Turnbull he does view climate change differently than Abbott. Most importantly os he believes it’s happening. In addition,  Turnbull is said to be a supporter of the carbon tax, which Abbott worked hard to abolish, and finally after several attempts succeeded to do. However, he has said he would support Abbott’s emission target which is seen as one of the weakest among industrialised nations.

Senator and leader of the Australian Greens Richard Di Natale was doubtful Abbott’s ousting  would mean much change on policy, writing on his Facebook page: “I doubt that a change of leader will mean a different Liberal Party. But, if Malcolm Turnbull genuinely changes the direction of this government I will welcome that. If his government takes meaningful action on global warming, or treats refugees with basic human decency – I welcome that”.

And Greenpeace Australia Pacific is not wasting any time in putting pressure on the new Prime Minister. On its Facebook page it asks: “Dear Malcolm, Will you learn from the mistakes of Tony Abbott and stand up for our Reef, our climate and future?”
The ousting happens just months before 192 UN nations will meet in Paris to discuss a global deal on combating climate change.

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