Coal hard truth sinks Australian Prime Minister

Australian Prime Minister

Creative Commons: CeBIT Australia, 2014

In a warning for all fossil-friendly leaders globally, Tony Abbott’s blind support for coal and cynical inaction on climate change are among factors behind him being unceremoniously turfed out of his job this week.

Challenged by former Environment Minister and previous Liberal leader Malcolm Turnbull, Abbott was voted out by his party after Turnbull seized on his and the Liberal Right’s failure to develop and sell a credible economic policy given their “extraordinary gusts of hubris” and “feckless machismo”.

Eyes are now turning to Turnbull’s vision for the future, and how he will separate his stated desire for a modern, nimble Australia that embraces disruption (such as renewables), from the Abbott Government’s backward-looking coal wedlock.

Executive Director of the Australia Institute, Ben Oquist said:

Tony Abbott’s defeat is a defeat for coal and potential victory for renewable energy. Malcolm Turnbull has a unique opportunity to not just reposition the Liberal party but to redirect economic policy in Australia. The mining boom is over and climate change has already begun. Tony Abbott wedded himself to the old economy. This proved to be an economic and political failure. In the 21st century the idea that what is good for the environment is bad for the economy makes neither economic nor political sense.

How Turnbull deals with the Coalition’s deeply ingrained climate denial and renewable bloodlust is unclear.

Despite recognising the importance of action on climate change, being a supporter of emissions trading, and slamming Tony Abbott’s Direct Action policy, he has in the past won major transitional concessions for carbon-intensive industries, and has already declared that he is happy with Australia’s current, inadequate, emissions reduction target.

CEO of The Climate Institute, John Connor said:

All parties and all leaders who say they are serious about climate change need a plan for the modernisation and decarbonisation of our economy. Modern economies increasingly see reducing their dependence on polluting industries as central to future prosperity. Not having a plan for decarbonisation means not having a plan for our economy and not having a plan for the future.

All up, Turnbull is expected to move cautiously on climate.

Renewable policy is unlikely to be further weakened; current climate policy will remain – for now – though it could be “dialed up.”

Meanwhile, climate denying advisors, such as Tony Abbott’s “business advisor” Maurice Newman could be ejected from key roles, and the country will now hopefully move it out of the blocker camp at the upcoming UN climate talks in Paris.  

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