"Australia was once a leader on climate action. Thanks to American conservative powerhouses, that's no longer true."
"Australia, the sunburned country, is uniquely vulnerable to the dangers and risks of global warming. Whether it is the severe effects of flooding, unseasonal heat waves, devastating bush fires or decade-long droughts, Australia’s people, economy and natural environment have all keenly felt the impact of extreme weather and climate change.
Australia’s national scientific organizations have been raising the alarm for more than a decade, and the previous government accepted that scientific consensus and enacted a cap-and-trade scheme in 2012. But after a divisive election last year — one that saw native-born Rupert Murdoch exercise his considerable influence in Australian media markets to disastrous effect — the country is now governed by a deeply unpopular Liberal-National government, crafted in the image of the most climate-denying elements of the Tea Party. And its position on climate change has significant impacts on global efforts to reduce carbon emissions: Australia is not only the chair of the G-20 group of nations, but also holds a place on the U.N. Security Council.
The rest of the world saw this ideology on full, embarrassing display with the recent visit by Prime Minister Tony Abbott to Canada and the United States. A week after President Obama’s introduction of substantial policy reforms to reduce carbon pollution, and China’s first-ever pledge to cap carbon emissions, the Australian prime minister stood next to his Canadian counterpart and scoffed at the idea of global warming, saying that climate change is “not the only or even the most important problem that the world faces” and that measures to reduce carbon emissions would “clobber” the economy."